As protesters gather on Scarborough beach, is Greenpeace planning to hijack North Yorkshire fracking decision?

THE environmental organisation Greenpeace has hinted it may take 'direct action' against plans to start fracking in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.

Anti-fracking demonstrators on Scarborough's south bay.

A long-awaited decision on a proposal by Third Energy to use the controversial mining method at Kirby Misperton, will be made next month.

But today Greenpeace suggested it may try to circumvent the process. Giving little detail, it released a video by actresses Emma Thompson and Sophie Thompson, who say they have “a cunning plan” to support people across the UK who oppose the fracking industry.

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The sisters, whose credits include Love Actually, Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter and Four Weddings and a Funeral, accuse David Cameron of not listening to anti-fracking arguments and campaigns for alternative, renewable energy sources.

Anti-fracking demonstrators on Scarborough's south bay.

They say: “We are prepared to take peaceful, direct action to spread the word about what is going on, because it is frankly unacceptable.”

North Yorkshire County Council will rule on the Ryedale applicationn on May 20. Third Energy first asked for permission at the end of July last year and planning rules say the application should have been decided within 16 weeks.

But the process has been repeatedly delayed amid requests from the county for further information.

The decision will receive national attention amid frustration from the Government and energy firms at the slow progress in getting a UK fracking industry up and running in the face of vocal opposition.

Actress sisters Sophie (left) and Emma Thompson in a Greenpeace video

Applications to frack on the Fylde Coast were rejected by Lancashire County Council last year. Those decisions are being appealed.

Meanwhile, anti-fracking groups protested on Scarborough beach today as an energy conference began in the town.

Organised by the Onshore Energy Services Group, the “Future Business Opportunities for North Yorkshire Onshore Oil and Gas” conference brought together major operators in the industry along with businesses to discuss opportunities to win contracts in the shale gas supply chain.

Protest groups including Frack Free Scarborough and Friends of the Earth picketed the conference as delegates arrived.

Anti-fracking demonstrators on Scarborough's south bay.

A spokesman for Frack Free Scarborough said: “The fact that the 1.15pm session is entitled, ‘The size of the prize’ shows gas companies and their political backers are only interested in profit. This community’s health and welfare is not a financial prize to be handed to the highest bidder.”

Scarborough Green Party councillor Mark Vesey said: “We don’t want anyone coming to Scarborough promoting an industry that threatens our beautiful countryside and so callously puts profit before people and the planet.”

But conference chief executive Lee Petts said: “With the potential for the oil and gas industry to really take off in the north of England, we wanted to make sure that Yorkshire businesses were well-placed to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.”

Actress sisters Sophie (left) and Emma Thompson in a Greenpeace video