A North Yorkshire County Council meeting was suspended this morning when opponents of fracking demanded action to address concerns about imminent operations at a site near their homes.
A group of women living near Third Energy’s fracking site at Kirby Misperton asked to be allowed to ask an emergency question at the Ryedale Area Committee, meeting in Malton.
But the council said the question had arrived after the deadline of last Friday and it was too late to be heard.
A decision by the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, on whether to approve fracking at Kirby Misperton is expected any day. If approved, it would be the first high volume hydraulic fracture in the UK onshore since 2011.
One of the women, Sue, told the committee:
“We are not troublemakers. We are here because we are desperate. We are not going to leave until we get answers, because you refuse to give us our answers and we have a right to be answered on these questions.”
The women held placards about issues they think the council should raise with Third Energy. The captions included:
Recent H2S release investigation = Tardy,
Wildlife Assessment = shoddy and worthless,
In response, the council adjourned the meeting. Council leader, Carl Les, said:
“Anti-fracking campaigners are entitled, as are other citizens, to put questions to be considered at council meetings and we answer them in the proper way.
“In this case the chair was overwhelmed by the orchestrated level of disruption and felt she could not continue with the business of the committee.”
One of the women, Michelle, said:
“This is an emergency situation. They are about to start fracking.
“We are demanding an answer to these questions. We are told over and over again that we have gold standard legislation, but they don’t have any teeth.
“There have been so many breaches, but Third Energy have not been made to answer for any of them: We demand an answer to know what’s being done about these breaches.”
A council spokesperson said an answer to the question “What would the Council do about potential breaches of planning conditions regarding the KM8 site?’’ had already been answered on its website.
The answer reads:
“Prior to the start of the operations, North Yorkshire County Council highways will be provided with a contact from Third Energy who will deal with any concerns or issues raised in respect to traffic management. The Third Energy contact will be available 24 hours a day and will ensure that issues are dealt with promptly and investigated.
“County council officers will monitor traffic movements on the ground and we will be monitoring and visiting the site.
“We will work with the company, the police and other statutory agencies to ensure compliance.”
The council said:
“We will be open to members of the public bringing issues to our attention and we have set up a dedicated web page where any issues can be raised with us. Enquiries and complaints will be dealt with appropriately and as quickly as possible.
“We are a large authority and we are effective enforcers on planning. Ultimately, we can use prosecution if necessary.”