Open up a map of the UK showing where energy firms have been granted exclusive rights for oil and gas exploration in the most recent round of licences and one striking trend is inescapable.
Fracking: Battle lines are drawn... and fracking war is just starting
Green squares, signifying licences for 10km-by-10km areas handed out in 2015, spread across most of Yorkshire, northern Lincolnshire and parts of the East Midlands. Further south there is nothing but white.
The reason for the surfeit of operators in the area is the Bowland Shale between Lancashire and Yorkshire, described in 2013 as the biggest shale field in the world.
For supporters of fracking, the stakes couldn’t be higher in their efforts to extract its vast quantities of gas.
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Ken Cronin, of industry body United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), says a medium estimate is that it holds 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, meaning ten per cent would provide gas for the UK for nearly half a century.
But as opponents point out, the extraction comes at a price. Emma Gibson, of Greenpeace UK, said: “The haunting beauty of the Yorkshire countryside is not just a source of pride for local people but a major economic asset too.
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“Industrialising this unique landscape for the sake of an unproven fracking industry is simply not worth the risk. The case for fracking is falling apart while the case for renewables keeps getting stronger.”
Feelings are running high, with anti-fracking campaigners making frequent claims about safety. This week, Frack-Free Ryedale issued a press release highlighting alleged safety flaws at
Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton fracking well-site, only to issue a correction when it emerged the site was actually a conventional well.
Mr Cronin admits opposition is likely wherever fracking does start, with other types of onshore energy production such as wind farms and nuclear generating similar protests.
“It is just one of those things, there will be people, regardless of what it is, that will have reservations about it,” he said.