RYEDALE MP Kevin Hollinrake has said he is not a "campaigner or cheerleader" for the fracking industry, after holding a private meeting with representatives of five shale gas companies.
Mr Hollinrake met with representatives of INEOS, Cuadrilla, Northern Gas Networks, Third Energy and iGas in a "producers' summit" on Monday as local protest groups called for a new national moratoria on fracking
The Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton said: "The reason we called the meeting is that there are five different producers, and we decided we need to get all these companies together to co-ordinate how things would work. People are worried about this. I met a lot of people who are concerned about whether this will make our beautiful county of Ryedale look different.
"We need to be able to explain to people today that they don't need to be concerned that these things aren't going to be addressed in a way that's sensitive to local communities and the environment."
He said that he wanted a clear set of guidelines that producers will need to operate to over the next 20 years. The producers agreed that a "lead" regulator for the industry was needed to establish accountability, and they also agreed to outline their plans in advance to assuage community concern.
Mr Hollinrake said that North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) had been invited to attend the meeting but had declined as they are currently deciding whether to grant planning permission for fracking.
He added: "We didn't make it a public meeting as we wanted people to be able to speak freely. I'm not a campaigner or cheerleader for this industry."
NYCC has been considering application by Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton for more than six months, with the deadline being pushed back twice. However, the authority of the council may yet be overruled. In Lancashire, the UK Government aim to quash the county council's ruling against fracking because they feel it is a matter of"national importance".
Mr Hollinrake's meeting came in the wake of more protests by community groups. A number of local anti-fracking activists protested outside his surgery in Old Malton on Saturday, a week after gathering outside his surgery in Thirsk.
Holding placards, the members of Frack-Free Malton and Norton quizzed the MP on his stance on fracking near homes and schools.
Steve Mason, from Frack-Free Ryedale, said: "Kevin Hollinrake should be calling for a new inquiry on fracking, not trying to facilitate it. Now is the time to introduce a new national moratoria on fracking until all the evidence is in."
Josie Downs, a member of Frack Free Malton, said: "Rather than sacrificing a swathe of northern England for shale gas extraction that would in part be wasted on poorly insulated buildings, the priority should be to ensure that all UK homes get insulated to a high standard. This would reduce energy demand and give us warmer homes, create thousands of jobs and bring down energy bills."