July 11: Fracking onus is on industry

IF the public is to support fracking as a means of releasing precious future gas supplies then it is imperative that it has sufficient faith in the process.

However, this will not happen unless residents living close to the fracking sites – and all those who have concerns over the environmental impact the process might have – are assured that it will be both planned and executed in a careful and considered manner.

For this reason there is a clear onus on the fracking industry to ensure that it engenders such confidence. Yet the application submitted to North Yorkshire County Council by Third Energy to frack in Kirby Misperton appears to fail this test at the very first hurdle.

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The council’s nine-page response, which has been obtained by campaign group Frack Free North Yorkshire via a Freedom of Information request, highlights a number of deficiencies, which resulted in the application being returned to the company.

More than a dozen sections of the application form were not filled in correctly. Among the more glaring omissions were the lack of sufficient detail relating to the production stage, such as its duration. Nor were provisions set out for the restoration of the site, or for its subsequent monitoring for the statutory five-year period after the process was complete.

The fracking industry as a whole can be under no illusions that the case for this method of accessing natural gas reserves is still to be won. Large swathes of the public – not least in Yorkshire – remain concerned that the supplies released by fracking will come at too great a cost in terms of the impact on the surrounding environment.

The perception that companies are not considering every aspect of the fracking process in the level of detail expected of them will do nothing to quieten those fears.

Battle for Britain: Debt we still owe to RAF heroes

IN a characteristically rousing speech to the British people towards the end of June 1940, Winston Churchill announced: “The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.”

A few weeks later, on July 11, the Luftwaffe commenced a ferocious aerial assault designed to pave the way for a Nazi invasion.

Initially attacking shipping in the English Channel along with coastal towns and defences, the focus then shifted to the attempted destruction of the RAF. In a conflict that saw so many turning points, the ensuing battle for air supremacy that lasted until the end of October would prove pivotal.

Three-quarters of a century has now passed since the RAF’s hard-fought victory in the skies high above Britain, yet the heroism of those involved remains undimmed.

It is remarkable to consider, for instance, that the average age of an RAF pilot in 1940 was 20.

Yet on these young men’s shoulders the future of this nation – and arguably democracy itself – depended.

Though heavily outnumbered, their Spitfires and Hurricanes epitomised the dogged defiance of the entire country.

Paying tribute to their courageous deeds, Churchill went on to utter the immortal words: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

As we mark the 75th anniversary of a decisive triumph secured at great human cost, we remember that it is debt we still owe to this day.

A capital bid: Leeds seeks international prize

YORKSHIRE has traditionally eschewed the tub-thumping of certain other parts of the country when it comes to selling its unique qualities to the world beyond the Broad Acres.

Yet whilst such modesty is laudable, the benefits to be gleaned from a heightened profile on the global stage were made evident by the astonishing success of last summer’s visit of the Tour de France.

The initiative has been seized by Hull, which is busily preparing for its year as the UK’s City of Culture for 2017. Leeds is now also seeking to build on the momentum from the Grand Depart with a bid for European Capital of Culture status.

Victory would mark another important step toward banishing the outdated stereotypes that too often influence outside opinions of Yorkshire, showcasing the richness of its culture.

A steering group is now being put together to frame the bid and it is to be hoped that it presents a clear and compelling case that ensures further international recognition for this region.