Countryside crisis warning as frackers target Yorkshire

Anti-fracking protesters on the  march. Below: Anne McIntosh MP
Anti-fracking protesters on the march. Below: Anne McIntosh MP
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Rural campaIgners have urged the Government to consider the impact of fracking on the half a billion pound a year local tourism economy.

Concern is growing that drilling for oil and gas in parts of Yorkshire, including potential bids in the North York Moors national park, could see major disruption to rural life.

Anne McIntosh, MP

Anne McIntosh, MP

Ministers are to be asked what protection can be offered to the rural villages and farms which form a vital part of the tourism economy amid fears some fracking sites will need a regular supply of heavy goods vehicles shipping out waste water and bringing in material for constructing wells.

The North York Moors national park has seen its fracking defences boosted by recent Government guidelines making clear drilling can only take place in the park on “exceptional circumstances”.

But with significant reserves identified beneath the ground, drilling bids are already being eyed up.

Planning director Chris France said: “Fracking will have an impact on rural life and absolutely will effect the tourism economy.

“That economy here is incredibly important, it is worth half a billion pounds a years any anything that impacts on that has to be carefully considered.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) backed the park, saying there is a real risk of “disruption to rural Yorkshire.”

Jules Marley, chair of the CPRE Craven branch, said: “An influx of lorries on roads - barely suited for milk trucks - would not only disrupt local farmers but compromise the tranquillity and beauty that attracts tourists to our outstanding North Yorkshire countryside.

“The hills and dales of North Yorkshire were shown to the world in the recent media coverage of the Tour de France, and we need to maintain the quality of our countryside to keep the tourists coming back and supporting our rural tourism industry.

“We are faced with the challenge of keeping the Dales alive. Such an upheaval in infrastructure would endanger our efforts to ensure a vibrant rural economy right now, so while we have to meet energy need in the long term, the Government has to work with communities to find suitable ways to do so.”

The issues has also been raised by The Yorkshire Post as part of its The Big Debate series. Chairwoman of the Environment Select Committee, Anne McIntosh, said concerns remain over the rural impact from fracking infrastructure.

The Malton and Thirsk MP this week told Environment Secretary Liz Truss to explain how the region’s roads will cope with “hundreds of thousands of litres of waste water” being shipped away from fracking sites.

Ms McIntosh last night said she will be raising the issue with the Eric Pickles’ Departments for Communities And Local Government and Ed Davey’s Department for Energy and Climate Change amid concerns the full impact on the regional economy is not being factored in when drilling permission is being considered.

Speaking after a select committee hearing, she said: “These lorries have the potential to cause incredible disruption to rural Yorkshire, taking away the peaceful countryside that brings people to the region. I know from speaking to constituent that this is a big concern for many, including those farmers who have set up B&Bs near locations that could be open to fracking.”

Environment Secretary Liz Truss said that in many locations the water used to break up underground rocks and release gas and oil would not need to be shipped away, with options instead for treating it on site.