The company planning to carry out fracking in Yorkshire has announced that it is withdrawing equipment from its proposed site, as campaigners claim the move heralds a major setback for the industry.
Business secretary Greg Clark last month ordered an assessment of the “financial resilience” of Third Energy, before deciding whether to give it consent to undertake the controversial hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in North Yorkshire.
Third Energy said today that because the financial review process “may take some time”, it has now agreed to recall some equipment from the KM-8 well in Kirby Misperton.
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Dozens of protests have taken place in the village since the summer and more than 80 people have been arrested in relation to incidents at the Habton Road site.
The firm says it hopes the partial equipment recall will stop the demonstrations and reduce pressure on North Yorkshire Police, which has spent more than £600,000 dealing with protests.
A spokesman for Third Energy said: “As this process may take some time we have agreed with the relevant contractors to release some of their equipment from site. This will allow our contractors to deploy their equipment to other projects during the financial review.”
The company said it will keep the majority of operational equipment on-site.
In response to the announcement, Kirby Misperton Protection Camp campaign group said the move showed the “tide had turned” against the industry.
The group said in a statement: “We would suggest it’s time for Third Energy to pack up and leave completely.”
It added: “The tide has turned against the industry, fracking is a dead duck.”