‘It is too early for decision on fracking’

Gazette & Herald: . .

RESIDENTS in Ryedale are worried that fracking could begin as early as next year as the search for shale gas in the area looks likely to get under way.

Samples from drilling in Kirby Misperton earlier this year are being tested to analyse the potential for fracking in the area.

Third Energy, a company which has investment from Barclay’s Natural Resource Investments, a private equity arm of Barclay’s bank, took shale rock samples while drilling in the area during the summer.

A spokesman for Third Energy confirmed that the samples were being analysed, but said it was too early to tell whether this would lead to fracking.

“There are no grounds to say whether there is actually anything in it yet and it is at a really early stage at the moment. If there was something in it we would then have to work out if it was technically possible and economically possible to produce the gas,” he said.

“It is in the very early stage so we can’t really specify on what the outcomes would be.”

The company, which currently has drilling rights across an area of 400sq kilometres, drilled a deep well earlier this year on the Kirby Misperton site to about 11,000 feet.

The process involved drilling through the shale gas to get down to the conventional gas source beneath and Third Energy said that the samples sent off were standard procedure having already drilled through them.

But the news has fuelled concern among residents who earlier this month took their protest against fracking to Malton.

During a day of campaigning against proposed fracking, members of York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth set up a “swear box” in Malton Market Place to put across their message of fracking being a “dirty word”.

Pickering resident Paul Gammon and member of campaign group Frack Free North Yorkshire said that like many people he is anxious to know what is happening in Ryedale.

“All we want to know is what is going to happen in our area and what they are going to be doing,” he said.

“I don’t mind them boring holes, but I think this thing of breaking up the earth underneath us is not very good at all, especially in this area.”

Paul became particularly concerned when he witnessed large amounts of heavy machinery being moved about a fortnight ago to an area in Pickering, and became worried that it could be the first step towards fracking.

However, he said that after speaking to North Yorkshire County Council planning and compliance officer Amy Taylor he was assured that, following a site visit, the site was being used to store machinery.

A Third Energy spokesman said that the results from the samples were not likely to be known before Christmas, but that the company would be keeping the public informed throughout the process.

“If everything fell in to place then there is a legislative and planning procedure which would have to be followed which would involve an extensive public consultation,” he said.

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