Council defies Ministers and delays fracking decision

The KM8 site
The KM8 site
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A YORKSHIRE council has risked confrontation with the Government after it signalled a delay in deciding whether to give the go-ahead to fracking proposals.

North Yorkshire County Council has told Third Energy it needs more time to consider the plan to carry out test-fracking at a site known as KM8 at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.

The authority should have reached a decision by November 18 but has written to Third Energy suggesting it will not now come to a verdict until early February.

Earlier this year the Government warned councils they should not delay decisions on fracking applications amid complaints from the energy industry.

Ministers said they would take over the power to decide fracking applications in areas which failed to adhere to the 16-week time limit.

Fracking, properly known as hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting gas trapped in underground rock formations. Critics argue it poses a major risk to the environment but the energy industry insists it is safe .

John Dewar, operations director of Third Energy said “NYCC has requested the extension to ensure that a number of matters, the majority of which are not specific to hydraulic fracturing, can be fully addressed.

“Several of the matters which require clarification have arisen as the result of responses by statutory consultees and other representations made to the planning authority.

“We appreciate that this application, and thus North Yorkshire County Council itself, is the subject of close scrutiny and public interest.

“But is should be remembered, that this application relates to an existing well and an existing site. We have drilled eight wells safely at our two Kirby Misperton sites, all of which took longer, with greater traffic movements and were more complex than the proposed fracks at KM8.”

David Davis, planning coordinator for the Frack Free Ryedale protest group, said: “It is clearly impractical to insist that local councils have to make decisions on major projects such as this within a 16-week timescale, as that would preclude the necessary back and forth between the planning authority, the applicant and key consultees. In the case of KM8, there are so many holes, contradictions, unanswered questions and vague statements within Third Energy’s planning application that this request by the NYCC comes as no surprise.”