Protesters were today moved from the shale gas fracking site in North Yorkshire after the county council revealed that all the planning conditions for the controversial proposals had been met.
Nearly 15 months after the authority granted permission for Third Energy to frack at a site near Kirby Misperton, between Malton and Pickering, it announced that conditions including traffic management had been agreed.
But the actual extraction of gas through hydraulic fracturing, which is strongly opposed by local campaigners and environmental groups, will not go ahead until consent is granted by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
North Yorkshire Police said its officers attended the fracking site this afternoon “after a group of protesters caused an obstruction at the hydraulic fracturing site”.
The force said in a statement: “Several protesters were moved away from the front of the site. There were no arrests.”
The pre-planning conditions agreed by North Yorkshire County Council relate to traffic management; to the prevention of mud on roads and to commitment to restore the site after work is complete.
The authority said the site already has existing conventional drilling for gas on it and that the planning approval decision does not have a bearing on future applications.
A spokesman said: “However, local councils must work within the national policy that indigenous oil and gas are key to energy security, while facilitating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“They must also consider the need for economic growth to provide jobs and sustainable communities.
“North Yorkshire’s planning committee was satisfied that in this particular application, mitigation of the effects of the development with regard to safeguarding the natural environment, protected species and habitats, the amenity of local residents, the protection of ground and surface water quality and traffic management could be achieved through the discharge of the planning conditions.
“These conditions have now been agreed and will be carefully monitored throughout the operation.”
Third Energy has given the county council a seven-day notification, meaning materials and equipment will be moved to the site in a week.
Richard Flinton, North Yorkshire’s chief executive, said: “The County Council is very aware that this is a controversial project of major sensitivity and complexity and that there is widespread concern about the impact it may have upon North Yorkshire’s beautiful environment and upon climate change.
“We gave planning consent on a single site which already had drilling for gas on it and this was subject to rigorous planning conditions which we have now agreed. Our role now is to ensure that the planning conditions are fully discharged and monitored.”
Fracking involves sand, water and chemicals being pumped at high pressure into shale rock formations deep underground to release trapped gas.
Critics argue the process poses risks to the environment and health, wastes water and causes disruption.
Despite Government support, public opposition has made it hard to develop UK shale gas, so the planning approval at Kirby Misperton plan represented a major breakthrough for the industry.