RYEDALE could see an increase in pollution and traffic levels, according to a new report.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment report, published by AMEC for the Department for Energy and Climate Change, has suggested that areas subject to high levels of fracking could see an increase in traffic congestion, emissions and more pressure on water resources.

Maps previously published by the British Geological Society have shown that a large area of land under Ryedale and a vast amount of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has shale gas deposits, which could be exploited in the future.

Concerned residents have already taken part in protests and formed an anti-fracking group – Frack Free North Yorkshire – after the news last year that Viking Gas UK had been granted permission to create a gas conditioning plant at Ebberston Moor and Lockton Compound, near Pickering.

Residents’ worries were further fuelled after it was revealed that samples from drilling in Kirby Misperton had been sent to be tested to analyse the potential for fracking in the area.

A spokesman for Third Energy, which owns Viking Gas UK, said that the results were not yet known and that it was too early to tell whether fracking would be possible at the site.

The company currently has drilling rights across an area of 400sq km.

The report suggested that fracking could create up to 32,000 jobs over the next 20 years and communities could benefit from payments of up to £1bn through the Government’s compensation scheme.

But the offer of compensation has done little to suppress the worries of Ryedale residents.

Paul Gammon, a member of Frack Free North Yorkshire, wants the Government to be more open with the public about the plans.

He said: “The Government report is very worrying and it all seems very false.

“We will have a lot of inconvenience for not a lot of cheap gas.

“In my opinion, the only people who will benefit from this is the gas companies.”

The Thirsk and Malton Constituency Labour Party said that it is supporting the search for shale gas, but only if it can be conducted in a safe manner.

Speaking on behalf of the constituency, chairman Alan Avery said: “While we must ensure that Britain has an energy supply that is affordable, secure and low-carbon, Labour has always said that shale gas extraction should only go ahead if it is shown to be safe and environmentally sound.”

The constituency has also called for the Government to ensure that tight controls are put in place to ensure the safeguarding of the area and local residents should fracking begin.