York & North Yorkshire

Campaigners say Kirby Misperton fracking approval may be 'unlawful'

Anti-fracking campiagners Image copyright PA
Image caption An application to begin fracking at a site in Kirby Misperton was approved in May

Anti-fracking campaigners have written to North Yorkshire County Council to say they believe the decision to allow fracking in the county may be unlawful.

Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale claim the authority failed to consider the environmental impact of burning the gas extracted to create electricity at a nearby power station.

An application to frack at a site near Kirby Misperton was approved in May.

The council said it had considered every aspect of the application.

Campaigners say they may seek a judicial review of the authority's approval of energy company Third Energy's application.

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at rock to release the gas inside.

Opponents say it can cause water contamination and earthquakes. Planners they say should also take account of the increase in noise and traffic pollution at such sites.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's John Moylan explains what the fracking vote means for Kirby Misperton - in 20 seconds

The protestors say their challenge focuses on the council's alleged failure to consider the impact of gas extracted through fracking being burned off at Third Energy's power station in Knapton.

In a letter to the authority they say they may seek judicial review if they do not receive "a satisfactory reply".

Jake White, legal adviser to Friends of the Earth, said legal action was the only course of redress open to campaigners.

"Given that we have legitimate legal concerns it is only right that the court may be called upon to decide them.

"Because the decision appears to have been arrived at without properly considering climate change, we believe it to be unlawful," he said.

In a statement, the authority said: "North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee gave proper regard to all material planning considerations before approving the application by Third Energy to undertake fracking for shale gas in the vicinity of Kirby Misperton.

"The County Council's legal team will consider the pre-action letter from Friends of the Earth. The Council will usually have a period of 14 days to respond formally."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's David Shukman explains how fracking works

The council passed the application on 23 May following a two-day hearing of the planning committee.

More than 4,300 objections to the application were received and 100 people gave evidence. The council revealed 36 representations were received in support of the application.

Third Energy, who were granted environmental permits in April to begin fracking, has previously said it is confident it can carry out the process safely.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites