Ryedale Tories make “historic” break with government in call for local fracking moratorium

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Anti-fracking rally outside Third Energy’s proposed fracking site at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Conservatives in the North Yorkshire district of Ryedale say they are sending a “historic message” by calling for a local moratorium on fracking until at least 2023.

Cllr Keane Duncan Ryedale District CouncilDespite the national party’s support for fracking, local councillors said today there were “no definitive” answers about the implications of the industry in their area.

The leader of Ryedale District Council, Councillor Keane Duncan (right), announced on Facebook that the Conservative group would present a motion at the full council meeting next month.

Cllr Duncan described today’s move as “a significant break” with government policy:

“Forget what you think you know about the Conservatives’ stance on fracking.

“Conservative councillors here in Ryedale are united in our aim to protect our area, its character and its people from the potential ramifications of fracking.

“That’s why we’re calling for a moratorium until we know enough about it. We feel this is the only responsible course of action.

“Our motion sends an historic message and signals a significant break with the Conservative Government as it races to embrace the fracking industry.”

In 2015, Ryedale voted in favour of a local moratorium and the following year it opposed Third Energy’s plans to frack at Kirby Misperton.

The new motion acknowledges that there is still time to run on the 2015 moratorium. But it said:

“We now have a new Council and it would seem appropriate to review our position.

“There is still much debate and discussion on hydraulic fracturing and no definitive answers on the many implications of the process.

“Given this, and taking into consideration the importance of tourism and the natural environment to people and the local economy, Ryedale District Council resolves to extend its call for a moratorium for the life of this Council.

“As before, this position is to be reconsidered if sufficient evidence becomes available on the impact of the process.”

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Anti-fracking protest outside Pickering Conservative Club, 6 November 2017. Photo: Kirby Misperton Protection Camp

Third Energy did not frack the KM8 well at Kirby Misperton.

In January 2018, the government required a test of the company’s financial resilience before final permission was granted.

There has been no public statement about the result of the test.

Third Energy is now seeking planning permission to extend its operations at six Ryedale gas sites for another 17 years.

Two weeks ago, Ryedale’s planning committee unanimously opposed the application.

Planning officers, who recommended the objection, said in a report that the authority was “strongly opposed” to fracking.

The report said:

“The applications are, in part justified on the basis that the development proposed would ensure that a network of infrastructure is in place to support hydraulic fracturing in the future.

“This is not acceptable to this Authority and it objects to the applications on this basis.”

Just days later, Third Energy told local representatives it was focusing on its conventional gas business, rather than fracking.

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Conservative MP, Kevin Hollinkrake, in Kirby Misperton, 3 November 2017. Photo: Kirby Misperton Protection Camp

The Conservative group’s motion goes against the position of the local Conservative MP, Kevin Hollinrake.

Last month, he said he did not support a ban of fracking, despite being a member a member of the Conservative Environment Network, which included a ban in its manifesto.

Meeting details

The council meeting is on 5 September at 6.30pm. The meeting is at Ryedale House, Old Malton Road, Malton YO17 7HH.

6 replies »

  1. Support for fracking is fast disappearing amongst the Conservatives. With all opposition parties opposed to fracking things are looking very bleak indeed for the industry.

  2. Support for a lot of things will “disappear” before an election, KatT, but then re-emerge afterwards. Ever thus. Remember tuition fees and the Lib Undems?

  3. Unfortunately Martin, this is only 3 months AFTER the new district council was elected and it will only affect RDC policy. No other election has been announced… yet. It does however seem to be an interesting political move from the party that bowed to head office by voting down a fracking ban in Feb 2015, then largely abstained from voting on the moratorium later in 2015, due to dire warnings of ‘predetermination’ from the council solicitor, which is the only reason the moratorium got passed.
    It’s heartening to note that the local Tories have finally caught up with public opposition (Tory homeowners included), although decidedly odd to move a motion for a moratorium that is already council policy until Oct 2020. Presumably voting for a moratorium on a moratorium doesn’t mean that RDC will suddenly become pro fracking!
    So yes KatT, with middle England, middle class Tory voters waking up to the smell of a violently shaking coffee percolater and the prospect of falling house prices and exclusion of insurance cover, politicians are suddenly and miraculously seeing a different perspective. Odd that.

  4. Very easy Mike, to seek to make a gesture AFTER the company has stated it has no intention to frack any time soon!

    So, I suggest by the time the reality changes an election (General) will have taken place. Meanwhile, those who want to state they are against something that is not going to happen, can hold their meetings, scoff their Bourbons and collect their expenses.

    • Good heavens Martin. We’re in agreement!! Nice to know that it’s now virtually official that fracking ‘is not going to happen’ here.
      Although can I just point out that after I said ‘public opposition’ you forgot to mention all those people throughout the country with no knowledge or interest in fracking that you always claim are pro fracking because they aren’t anti – as per the quarterly govt survey. Unforgivable omission.

    • Except Martin, there are several companies, including INEOS, still hoping to frack in Ryedale and across North Yorkshire. So bang goes the theory.

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