By Ameera Abdul Hameed
ANTI-FRACKING protesters stormed a gas exploration site in North Yorkshire – climbing an 18-metre tall rig and disrupting work last Sunday (October 22).
The UK is about to approve the first fracking project since 2011 near Kirby Misperton despite objections from many communities in the area.
The protests have been going on for more than a year and more frequently since the approval of Third Energy’s application to start test-fracking at the site this week, a process which involves pumping liquid at high pressure into the ground to expand cracks and force gas upwards.
Leigh Coghill, an anti-fracking protester, said: “We don’t want fracking and it’s that simple. By providing a physical barrier, those watching in Westminster will be forced to listen.”
The most prominent protest group Frack Free Ryedale has now joined other groups to form Frack Free United.
The group claims environmental hazards of fracking include pollution and an increased risk of earthquakes.
Steve Mason, its campaign director, said: “Frack Free United believes that the government should halt all fracking activities and rethink its outdated energy policy.
“The development of a new extreme fossil fuel industry across England would have negative and far-reaching consequences.”
But local Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake has been a prominent supporter of fracking.
His campaign came to fruition in May 2016 when North Yorkshire County Council voted to approve the bid to frack near Kirby Misperton.
Mr Hollinrake, who is MP for Thirsk and Malton, said: “We need gas, we have 23 million homes connected to the main gas supply in the UK.
“We import currently half our gas and by 2030 we will be importing 70 per cent of our gas. We have two choices, either we continue to import more gas or we produce our own.”
The test fracks at Kirby Misperton are being carried out by a specialist gas company, Third Energy.
Since the company began to excavate fracking sites, protesters have attempted to halt work by chaining themselves to fences and equipment, and halting traffic by blocking access roads – which has led to police becoming involved and making arrests.
In a statement, Third Energy said: “We respect the right to lawful and peaceful protest but sustained protest by some parties has resulted in the need for greater police presence.”
A coalition opposed to fracking has written to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clarke, asking him to explain how fracking will affect climate change and what impact it will have on the local environment before he approves the fracking project.
Mr Mason said: “It is a decision that will affect communities across the country and future generations to come.”