WHILE the start of fracking in Yorkshire may have been delayed until at least the autumn, news that the policing costs for dealing with the associated protests against the shale gas industry in the village of Kirby Misperton have now surpassed £700,000 should be of concern to residents across the region.
Although Third Energy, the company behind plans to conduct test-fracking in Kirby Misperton, has put its plans on hold until a Government review of its finances is completed, the issues seen in this small corner of Ryedale are likely to soon be playing out across the entire county – with subsequent protests and policing costs attached.
It follows more than 80 arrests in the village in the past six months as campaigners attempted to frustrate work beginning with tactics including jumping on lorries and even locking their arms in concrete tubing before lying in front of the gates to the site.
Such scenes may soon become familiar elsewhere, given that seven companies have licences to explore whether fracking is feasible across vast swathes of Yorkshire as part of Government-backed attempts to reduce the nation’s reliance on imported energy.
North Yorkshire Police is currently having to shoulder the financial burden for dealing with the protests on its own, although there are now hopes the Government may soon agree to meet some of the costs.
But given the contentious nature of fracking, and its likely impact on already-stretched policing budgets, it may be time to consider asking shale gas firms to start contributing towards the seemingly-inevitable protest costs that follow their operations. If football clubs can contribute towards policing costs, a level playing field must surely apply to firms investing millions in the hope of eventually reaping considerable profits. It is the least our police and taxpayers deserve.