Ukip candidates go against national fracking policy

UKIP COUNCILLORS will oppose fracking in North Yorkshire, despite their party backing it nationally.

Fracking has become a local election issue in North Yorkshire

Roger Helmer, Ukip’s energy spokesman, has described fracking’s opponents as “eco-freaks” and leader Paul Nuttall last year welcomed the go-ahead for fracking in Lancashire, an area he represents as a North West MEP.

But Ukip candidates in this week’s North Yorkshire County Council elections are opposing fracking.

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Andrew Dennis, Ukip’s North Yorkshire campaign manager, said: “One of the issues in North Yorkshire is that its a beautiful part of the country and the last thing this area needs is someone coming along digging for gas.

“Locally, our candidates are utterly opposed to fracking.”

Asked about the national party’s support for fracking, Mr Dennis said: “Ukip at county council or council level, there is no party whip.

“All the other parties they go to a council and they are told what to do. Within Ukip there is no whip at council level so councillors are free to vote how they wish or how their electorate would like them to vote on issues.”

He continued: “Roger Helmer, our energy spokesman, likes to talk about fracking and that’s our overall policy but within that Ukip are allowed to, no-one enforces anything.

“Ukip councillors work for their local electorate, they don’t work for the party machine or anybody else.”

Ukip are using the election to make a fresh call for the scrapping of the current council system in North Yorkshire which involves a county authority and seven district councils.

Mr Dennis said creating two unitary authorities would “save millions and millions of pounds”.

“That is the only serious way of resolving the budget issue,” he said.

Ukip secured its first two seats on the county council at the last elections in 2013.

One of them, Harrogate Bilton and Nidd Gorge county councillor David Simister, is stepping down this week. Sam Cross is defending his Filey seat.