Battle lines drawn over Malton fracking plan

A YORKSHIRE MP has accused an energy firm of going back on its promise after it unveiled plans to carry out the first fracking in the region.

Fracking rigs like this one are a common site in America

Third Energy will ask for permission to use the controversial mining method at a site in Kirby Misperton, near Malton, in North Yorkshire.

Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh claimed the company had previously told her they had no intention of fracking in Ryedale.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fracking involves the use of water, sand and chemicals forced at high pressure into underground rock formations to free trapped gas deposits.

It has been credited with dramatically lowering the cost of energy in the United States by opening up access to new sources of gas and giving a significant boost to the country’s economy.

But environmental campaigners argue the technique exposes water courses to the risk of contamination and uses huge volumes of water.

Third Energy, formally known as Viking Energy, already operates the nearby Knapton Generating Station which is fuelled by gas collected by conventional means.

Ms McIntosh, who chairs the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, said: “People really will not look kindly on companies coming into Ryedale with their shaft sinkers and traffic movements to hydraulically frack at depth, potentially impacting upon tourism, leaving a legacy of spoilt landscape and ruining the countryside forever.

“I am at a loss to understand how Viking Energy have suddenly developed the technology, when they gave me an assurance within the last year that they themselves neither had the technology nor any intention of hydraulically fracking at depth anywhere in Ryedale.”

Responding, a company spokesman said: “Third Energy has given a commitment about not fracking in the North York Moors National Park.

“This does not apply to Kirby Misperton, which is not in the national park.”

The Government has strongly backed fracking and promised local authorities they can keep all the business rates generated by operations in their area.

The industry has also promised communities £100,000 for each test well and one per cent of revenues if they go into production.

Third Energy carried out test drilling in Kirby Misperton last year as part of its conventional operations but the results have identified geology which may be suitable for fracking.

It is asking for permission to hydraulically fracture the well to see if gas can be released in commercially viable quantities, a process likely to take several months.

Rasik Valand, chief executive of Third Energy, said: “Having operated in the area for many years, we know the importance of being a good neighbour and we will work in partnership with the local community to develop this opportunity.”

In a statement, campaign group Frack Free Ryedale said: “If Third Energy are really interested in being a ‘good neighbour’, they would withdraw their intention to apply for a fracking licence immediately, so that the people of Ryedale are not subjected to the highly damaging and unavoidable consequences of fracking, such as noise, light and air pollution, a huge increase in HGV traffic, and possible contamination of land and our local water supplies.

“We urge the whole of Ryedale to come together to fight any application to frack our community.”