Ryedale Tories reject government changes to fracking planning rules

180906 Ryedale Council vote Eddie Thornton2

Meeting of Ryedale District Council, 6 September 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

A Conservative-led council which could see the first frack in North Yorkshire has overwhelming rejected government proposals to change planning policy for shale gas exploration.

Ryedale District Council approved a motion this evening to endorse local control of fracking and oppose ministerial proposals to bypass mineral planning authorities.

The Ryedale area includes Third Energy’s gas site at Kirby Misperton where the company is waiting for government approval of a test frack.

180906 Ryedale Council vote Eddie Thornton

Ryedale District Council’s electronic voting panel. Photo: Eddie Thornton, 6 September 2018

At a full meeting of the council, 28 members across all parties voted for the motion, which described the government proposals as inappropriate. There was one abstention and no votes against.

The proposals, currently subject of a public consultation, would reclassify non-fracking shale gas exploration plans as permitted development. This procedure, previously intended for garden sheds and small house extensions, would allow shale gas developers to avoid submitting a planning application.

The government also proposes to classify major shale production schemes as National Significant Infrastructure Projects. This would take them out of local authority control and give decisions to the Local Government Secretary following a public inquiry.

The Ryedale motion, proposed by two Liberal members, instructed the council to reject the proposals.

It said the recently-approved minerals plan for North Yorkshire should have “primacy for all planning decisions at all stages of fracking”. The motion also requested North Yorkshire County Council, which granted permission for the Kirby Misperton frack, to support the opposition to government policy.

180906 Ryedale Council vote Eddie Thornton3

Frack Free Ryedale supporters outside the district council meeting, 6 September 2018. Photo: Frack Free Ryedale

David Davis, of Frack Free Ryedale said after the meeting:

“It’s a good day for local democracy when Councillors work across party divides to make the right decision for Ryedale.

“Today our Councillors sent a strong message to Westminster, and I would now urge them to back that up by signing an open letter through Let Communities Decide to tell the government that their proposals are an affront to our democracy.”

The Let Communities Decide campaign, supported by Friends of the Earth, Fossil Free UK, 350.org and Frack Free United, is planning a week of action from 8-14 October 2018.

In another initiative by Campaign to Protect Rural England and 38 degrees, more than 11,200 people have written a letter to their council leader and more than 181,348 have signed a petition against the government proposals.



29 replies »

    • Local Councils are not against exploratory wells or gas production from shale, er, just not in their Council area but happy to invest £Billions doing it in other Countries…

    • Wherever you are in the Country, your Council has probably invested £Millions in foreign shale gas

      £9,000,000,000 in total has been investedby Local Councils in foreign Fracking operations

      Selfish Hypocrites…

  1. The blatant shame and hypocrisy of Yorkshire Councillors is beyond belief

    Yorkshire Councils with Hundreds of £Millions invested in foreign Fracking operations is incredible

    Conflict of interest screams out at these people

    How can these Councillors sit their and vote that they know best for the Country, it’s energy needs and secure supply


    They are only interested in their selfish needs to sit on the Council



    Third Energy has a controversial fracking site at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, while the council’s fund has £81 million invested in other companies fracking across the world


    • If you’re right, Kisheny, and Ryedale District Council is indeed investing heavily in foreign fracking operations, then we should be justified in drawing attention to such hypocrisy. However, you will need to justify these accusations. In the meantime, let’s just congratulate the Council on their upholding of the principle of local democracy where fracking is concerned. Those who proposed this motion are certainly taking their duties seriously in working for what they consider to be the common good. You may disagree with this assessment but this hardly justifies your vituperative suggestions of self interest. You do a disservice to your cause.

      • I thank you for your comments David but I felt the need to expostulate my feelings

        The Common good seems to be quite a wide capture of meaning. Local Councillors in many Councils up and down the Country have always appeared to take the moral high ground on these issues and as such made these the reasons for refusals. In reality this is not the case. That is why I chose the word:


        someone who says they have a particular moral belief but behaves in way that shows they are not sincere

        I feel that one single word could describe many Local Councillors on this issue

        Whichever side of the debate people are on I am sure everybody would agree that people with a vested financial interest in a decision they make are biased

        All Councils who have a financial interest in shale gas operations should declare this as a conflict of interest when making decisions on this industry and pass the decision to a higher ministry level

        Thank you…

  2. pension fund managers decide where funds are invested. Councillors vote on local issues such as planning applications and local development. The two are not connected.

    [Comment edited at poster’s request]

    • If they weren’t aware of where their £9,000,000,000 was invested before they certainly are now

      This is a clear conflict of interest as I am sure there is a significant number of Councillors who are members of their local Government pension scheme of which investments will have a direct financial implication to the individual Councillor.

      By any Local Councillor voting to reject any shale gas exploration or extraction they are giving an unfair advantage to their Councils hundreds of Millions of Pounds of Foreign Fracking investment

      As well as the financial implications by funding foreign shale gas operations they are directly impacting the increased CO2 Emissions created by supplying the U.K with gas from these Nations, ie with an LNG cargo, the liquifying then transportation and regasification which incurs much much greater CO2 emissions than shale gas extraction in their local area

      • Kisheny
        You might find these investments are actually in companies involved in fracking, but not exclusively. You may need to quantify your findings.

        If you are correct, and this causes you to be angry about said situation, please be pro active and work on an action plan for change, that way you will attract support from many of those who do not agree with fracking in the UK or anywhere.

        We await your call to action.

        • I’ve missed you Sher, been a while…

          Companies involved in Fracking, not exclusively?

          That’s a weak argument by your standards

          As for the angry thing, don’t bother. You’ve done that one to death… To be honest before even reading your post I laughed and looked forward to reading it. Keep them coming, I appreciate the banter as the posters recently have been weak. I appreciate you’ve held back and pick your battles but please don’t stay out of the debates as the next couple of months will be extremely interesting

          Gas plus intermittent renewables is the answer to the U.K energy conundrum

          • Kisheny, replying to SherWolfe’s comments with no rebuttal other than sarcasm show’s you have no gravitas in your commentry. Write to your MP and ask for more investment into renewables. The day’s of fossil fuels are dying out, no matter how you justify it to yourself.

        • Kisheny whether councillors are aware or not doesn’t alter the fact they have no direct control over pension investments. Many LGPS are partnered with other local authorities, following the reforms brought in by Mr Cameron’s government. Where pension funds are invested cannot therefore be a conflict of interest. So perhaps your comments should be directed at the pension fund managers but should you be successful the remedy would be to divest, which I presume you are against?

          [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

          • Think you are directly missing the point Katt.

            The Councillors are fully aware of where their pension is invested and are fully in control when rejecting shale gas applications…

            100% conflict of interest and should be declared…

          • Answering to Refraktion

            Councillors already in the Local Authority Pension scheme prior to 31st March 2014 retain this right until the end of their term of office. As correctly stated by yourself those Councillors after this period cannot join said scheme.

            Although serving Councillors who have paid into the Local Authority Pension scheme prior to 31st March 2014 retain a financial interest in the success of the Councils pension fund

            If, when your term of office comes to an end, you are under age 60 you will be awarded deferred benefits in the scheme. These would become payable at age 65 unless:
            a) you choose to defer payment beyond that age, up to your 75th birthday at the latest, or
            b) you elect to have them paid on or after age 60 and before age 65 (without the need to obtain your council’s consent), or
            c) depending on your council’s published discretions policy, you request payment on or after age 50 and before age 60 (but you would need your council’s consent for the benefits to be paid), or
            d) you become, because of ill health or infirmity of mind or body, permanently incapable of discharging efficiently the duties of the office you had held in which case the deferred benefits can immediately be paid, regardless of age.

      • Another point of note is that this motion is only to retain the planning permission rules that currently exist, it is not to stop the activity. Therefore rather than a conflict of interest it is simply an attempt to retain due process.

      • Local Councillors are not Local government employees, they are not paid and only receive expenses allowance. They have no vested interest in Local Government pension schemes because they do not receive Local Government pension. Having said all that, as a separate issue, they should be fighting for divestment and to influence, change or take their money out of the pension company that is making these investments. Sadly though, most people with private or government pensions will probably find their pensions are tied up in investments in the arms industry, fossil fuels industry and other unsavoury areas if they actually look into it. Capitalism is unbounded by ethics and this is the root of most of our problems…

  3. A strong message from Tory councillors to government to change course.
    Interesting after Gove’s big call on the Leith Hill lease.

    • When fracking tried to come in under the radar 8 years ago many people including Councillors had little experience or knowledge of the
      shale industry.

      Salami slicing the applications and leading with the ‘exploratory then restore’ story kept things moving but only very slowly.

      During that time communities exposed the industry for what it really was.

      Multiple well sites in rural areas, heavy transport, and a wealth of information on the dangers to health and the environment and many reports highlighting the economic burden to the tax payer.

      It is no wonder councillors from all parties are taking the sensible approach and making sure they are in control of whether the industry is suitable in their area.

      Every application judged on it’s own merits. The way it should be.

      Well done to all the councillors and Frack Free Ryedale.

      • I find it strange your comments on shale gas U.K will be an economic burden to the taxpayer? How?

        The tax revenues alone to the treasury will run into hundreds of £Millions

        IF it was that economic of a dud would these local Councils have invested £9,000,000,000 in the industry

  4. KatT-you are correct in your point that it is not the Councillors who decide on investment policy for the pensions, but it is a pretty weak argument because it then leads to why are these huge investments made in such industries? The answer should be, and usually is, that these investments provide high and secure returns into the pension funds and have done so for many years. Even the banks have had problems in doing that. Perhaps that will change in the distant future, but with oil between $70-$80/barrel and forward supply under global political constraint, it will not change in the near to mid term.

    So, perhaps when local decisions are made Councils should take account of generating profitable businesses in their area because when they fail to do that, fail to balance their income against expenditure, they will not get bailed out by central government ie. the wider tax payer, but will have to cut services.

    I suspect if/when these Councils see what income may be possible for them from this industry they will have a very different view point. At the moment they are just looking at one side of the balance sheet, and maybe that is the response they will get from central government.

  5. I find it very interesting that a common thread runs through the antis posts using the legal framework to explain the cold hearted financial reasons that Local Councillors can reject shale gas in the U.K, the reasons being of their understanding and not their planning officers or Government guidelines. Whilst all the while investing £Billions in the industry abroad.

    The explanation given that they have no control over where their pension funds are invested.

    What if these Local Councillors had granted permission to shale gas Companies, then it came to light they had invested £Billions in shale industr

  6. The comments here, regarding council pension funds are a good diversion and one only to be expected from the pro frackers. However, they are a complete red herring. The subject here is one of local democracy. The government, no doubt following strong lobbying from the oil and gas industry, are seeking to evade any kind of local input and steamroller fracking on to communities. How on earth can the effects on the community of an exploratory fracking site, the size of two rugby pitches, such as that at PNR together with all the traffic, noise, pollution, light and disturbance be equated to the effects on the community of a garden shed? What is more, an exploratory site would most likely become a production site which would be rubber stamped by the SOS as an NSIP. So we now have a full blown production site, or more likely hundreds of production sites, compressor stations and pipelines all considered to affect local communities no more than garden sheds. There is also the fact that if a project is an NSIP, land to carry it out can be compulsorily acquired.
    Pro frackers here should think hard before defending this loss of local control and democracy.

    • I’m cofused Pauline that you think £9,000,000,000 invested by Local Councils in Fracking Operations is a red herring. Quite a costly diversion wouldn’t you say?

      How much lobbying do you think it would take to make a pension fund invest £9Billion?

      The thing is Pauline you seem to assume quite a lot of things when talking about the PNR site. I live three miles from the site and have three young children so I did my homework, already working in the Offshore industry and managed to get a site visit and hear what Cuadrilla had to say and see the operation for myself to allay any concerns I had.

      The Cuadrilla site is without doubt the safest and most professional worksite I have been on.

      You see Pauline I know you are just making assumptions about the site or you wouldn’t have mentioned the noise issue. There has been very effective sound barriers in place. as for traffic if you lived in the local area you would have experienced the amount of wagons within miles of the area going to and from the many thousands if not tens of thousands of houses being built on the Fylde Coast. Quite a number being built around the Kirkham area where I live and on the Preston New Road.

      The only disturbance over the past year has been protesters blocking Preston New Road.

      As for the garden shed scenario I’m afraid to tell you that an operational shale gas well will just look like a man hole cover as all the manifold assembly and pipework is subterranean. I know, I have stood on it after it was drilled.

      As for your statement as to NSIP compulsory land purchase, due to the nature of horizontal drilling compared to America the drills do not need to be directly above the gas in place so drill sites have an option as to where they are sited.

      Government Guidelines and Planning Officers are there for a reason, going against these recommendations and guidelines thinking they know best from a laypersons perspective on such important energy matters impacting the whole of the U.K is at best extremely foolish…

      • Kisheny, you talk of vast amounts of investment in this industry. You elude to the fact that we are all going to benefit from a very cheap energy sauce, “we’re gonna be quids-in” …nothing more than manhole cover. So, at PNR, are they going to grass over the site and take the fencing and Razor wire?
        I think not.
        They will keep opening up new pads in their hundreds because they have to, in order to make profit. So you deam industrialisation of the countrside far less important than making gazziliens of money.
        As the industry acknowledges. ALL WELLS FAIL!!!!

      • Pauline Jones is the first to make the valid point that most of the pro frackers comments on here are completely irrelevant to the actual post and are just diversionary tactics. Kisheny makes reference in numerous posts here that it is about making ‘anti fracking decisions’. I can only assume he is being deliberately disingenuous, or has not actually read and understood what the post is about. Perhaps Kisheny could explain precisely which part of the blog post – or even the motion they were voting on – is anti fracking? Maybe without personal abuse or yet more diversionary comments?

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