RYEDALE’S MP says the area should take the “next step” towards fracking providing it is done in the right way with stringent regulations and supervision.

Kevin Hollinrake spent a week in Pennsylvania in the US as part of a visit to investigate the impact on communities where shale gas extraction has taken place.

The Conservative MP, who was elected in May, said he had seen fracking first-hand on the self-funded trip and heard views of residents, fracking industry leaders, regulators and community groups.

It has been reported that from 2008 to 2011, more than 1.3 billion gallons of waste water were produced by Pennsylvania wells and sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials.

Studies by US universities published this year have found those living near fracking operations had a higher likelihood of going to the hospital and an increase of underweight babies born.

Mr Hollinrake said: “I have two big concerns – is it safe and will it impact on the beautiful area we live in?

“I will now be writing a report which will go to the Government with a series of recommendations, including regulation and supervision.

“If it goes ahead we must make it transparent and have inspectors crawling over the site.

“We also need to create a local plan on how this is rolled out and engage with residents so we don’t create a visual impact on the countryside.”

“I think it is possible but we have got to have a series of protections and make sure it is done in the right way.”

Mr Hollinrake said we must learn from what other countries have done and go much further with our protection and regulations.

“The majority of people in this area are against fracking and I understand that but we have to look at the facts rather than one side of the story,” he said.

“If we can produce energy domestically in a safe way which will help the local and national economy and not interfere with what other industries we have round here, including agriculture and tourism, then we should take the next step.”

Lorraine Allanson, from Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration (FORGE), which is in support of fracking, said: “This is an exciting time for Ryedale after Mr Hollinrake’s return from Pennsylvania.

“He has listened first hand to people from both sides of the debate and is right to advocate strong regulation and monitoring. If this test frack is successful, it could start the building blocks of a strong economic future for our region. The benefits for local businesses and employment opportunities could be substantial, enabling the next generation to work and stay in Ryedale.”

However, a spokesman for Frack-Free Ryedale, said: “The thousands of constituents and hundreds of businesses in Ryedale that are actively campaigning against fracking will be disappointed in Mr Hollinrake’s comments on fracking based on his short trip to Pennsylvania.

“His over-reliance on the power of regulations to protect the UK’s water supplies and public health, and apparent confidence that regulations in the USA have been tightened up sufficiently, ignores the recent scandals relating to water contamination by fracking companies in Pennsylvania.”