The chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council said he understands why the region is seen as a key resource for the energy industry but that planners are working hard to deliver a new policy that will protect the area’s “assets”.
A Minerals and Waste Joint Plan drafted with other councils and the Moors National Park outlines how fracking proposals within a 3.5km buffer zone around the Moors and the region’s three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - Nidderdale, Forest of Bowland and Howardian Hills - or any proposals “otherwise considered to have the potential to cause significant harm” to a national park or AONB, would need to come with a detailed assessment about the potential impacts.
Permission will not be given if plans could cause unacceptable harm to those area’s special qualities or are incompatible with statutory purposes.
The plan covering all of North Yorkshire includes a minimum 500m distance between well sites and homes and it goes to a public inquiry on February 27.
Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We are no stranger to resources of North Yorkshire being used nationally - all our minerals reserves and quarries - so we understand where an area has an important national resource we have an obligation to use that for the national good.
“We don’t have the power to ban fracking, that’s an issue reserved for national government. Once you accept this is the reality, you look at what is the policy we have to develop to try and balance and protect our local assets as best we can.
What we can do is have policies that try and limit the density and therefore proliferation of well sites.
“What we can do is have policies that try and limit the density and therefore proliferation of well sites... and try to protect the real assets of North Yorkshire.
“It’s a difficult balance to achieve in a very heightened atmosphere where people feel very passionate on each side.”