PERMITS have been granted to gas company Third Energy which will allow fracking at Kirby Misperton - provided they gain planning permission.

The Environment Agency made the decision to grant the permits following two public consultations.

Martin Christmas, environment manager for North Yorkshire, said: "After completing a thorough assessment of Third Energy’s application and all of the responses to our public consultations, we are confident that these environmental permits set out the right conditions to ensure that people and the environment are protected.

"Should Third Energy receive the appropriate planning permission and begin the permitted activities, we will stringently enforce the conditions of the permits to ensure that waste is managed properly and local groundwater is protected."

The permits set out the conditions that Third Energy must follow in order to protect water and air quality and to ensure the safe disposal of waste materials.

Third Energy's application to frack is now in its final stages, with North Yorkshire County Council deciding shortly whether or not to grant planning permission.

John Dewar, operations director at Third Energy, said: "This is another important step towards having the necessary permissions in place to fracture the KM8 well and evaluate the potential of the shale resource to produce gas commercially.

"The issuing of these permits demonstrates that the Environment Agency is satisfied that the hydraulic fracturing operation, including frack fluid which is non-hazardous to ground water and the disposal of the flow back water, can be managed without impacting on the local environment."

However, anti-fracking protestors have said it is "shocking" that the Environment Agency has granted the permits.

Dr Liz Garthwaite, a Malton resident, said: "We need a moratorium as called for by Ryedale District Council, all five town councils of Ryedale, and at least 10 parish councils, until this process has been properly researched."

Ian Conlan, from Frack Free Ryedale, added: "It is shocking that the Environment Agency has ignored the well-founded concerns of local residents.

"We call on the Environment Agency to reconsider this, and we will be seeking legal advice on challenging the decision granting these permits."