RYEDALE residents who say their voices have been drowned out by “extremist protestors” opposed to fracking at Kirby Misperton have delivered a 650-signature petition calling for an end to protest camps in the area.
Organisers of the petition say they have “had enough” of the disruption caused by national protestors and the visual blight of the camps, set up outside the Third Energy site.
They handed the petition to Conservative Thirsk and Malton MP - and fracking supporter - Kevin Hollinrake yesterday, calling on “relevant authorities” to evict any remaining protest camps near the site, and to ensure that no new camps are established in future.
Last month, a spokesperson for Kirby Misperton Protection Camp said the “time had come” to begin dismantling its camp, but said they would maintain a presence at the entrance to the site.
The move came more than a year after protestors first moved to the area, and followed a decision by Business Secretary Greg Clark in January to order an assessment of the “financial resilience” of Third Energy, before deciding whether to give it consent to undertake the controversial hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
In February, the company began removing equipment from the site. However, the petition organisers say the closure of the camp is “no guarantee” that protestors will not return and have urged local land owners to ensure they have locked field gates to prevent a new camp.
Nick Hardman, one of the petition organisers, said: “Just because the protestors are packing up to leave, it doesn’t mean they won’t be back. We’ve already seen that they’re only too willing to trespass on land that doesn’t belong to them and to engage in forms of protest that only serve to cause disruption to local residents.
“Our voices deserve to be heard. Local officials need to recognise the intolerable disruption, stress and community division these camps and their residents unfairly place on local residents and do more to rid them from the area and to stop a reoccurrence.”
The group say they have been fighting an “uphill battle” when it comes to raising awareness of community concerns.
Bob Batty from the group said: “The small minority of extremist protesters have consistently tried to drown us out with near professional use of local, national and social media, so far, it’s worked. We are just a group of locals without any financial backing.”
Mr Hollinrake said he had had “about a dozen or so” local constituents contact him with concerns about the camp, including issues around blocked roads as part of the protests, and he has met with police to discuss concerns.
“Residents have told me they felt intimidated at times by the protestors, who I must say, in the most part are pleasant and reasonable,” he said.