CAMPAIGNERS are calling on local communities to oppose Government plans to offer a "bribe" to individuals to accept fracking in Ryedale.

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a consultation on a proposal to give financial incentives - understood to be as high as £20,000 per property - to householders impacted by fracking near their homes.

Previously the Government had proposed giving the money to community trusts and councils to spend on community projects. However, members of Frack-Free Ryedale have appealed to residents to oppose the plans.

Councillor Di Keal, Liberal Democrat member of Ryedale District Council (RDC), said: "This is such an obvious ploy by the Tory party, led by pro-fracker Theresa May, to try and buy support for this hugely damaging industry.

"This move smacks of desperation from a Tory government that is losing the democratic argument on fracking.

"In the current economic climate people, when many people are struggling financially, the offer of £10,000 might seem appealing, but it is little compensation for the risk to the environment, our health and well-being and the wrecking of the countryside that the industry will bring.

"While the money may sound attractive to some hard pressed families it will not even scrape the surface in terms of the compensating for the huge fall in house prices that would follow in the wake of fracking.

“All local people in the vicinity of exploited wells will also face the damage and disruption caused by lorry journeys associated with the process, the pollution risks and damage to agriculture and tourism.

In May, North Yorkshire County Council approved the first fracking licence in the UK since 2011 to Third Energy for a site in Kirby Misperton.

Fellow campaigner and RDC Councillor Paul Andrews said: "The one positive concession which has emerged from the Prime Minister’s announcement is that the Government now accepts that fracking will have a negative impact on property values, which requires compensation.

"This should be no surprise, bearing in mind that the oil and gas industry categorise the areas in which they carry out fracking operations as 'sacrifice zones'."

Sue Gough, who lives near the site, said: “This is a cynical attempt by the Tories to bribe local people to accept fracking by offering them hard cash.

“If Third Energy is allowed to frack in Ryedale it will open up the floodgates to all the other companies who are waiting in the wings to move into North Yorkshire and will bring about the widespread industrialisation of the county – we need to continue to oppose the industry and persuade people to see through this blatant bribe.”

But local businesswoman Lorraine Allanson, of the group Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration, said the proposal was a good idea.

"By giving these direct payments to householders, Theresa May is rightly encouraging communities to accept the recovery of our own indigenous gas resources rather than an increasing dependence on imported gas," she said.

"It is more of an inconvenience payment than a bribe, this means locals will benefit financially and enjoy some of the positives of what the gas industry operating in the region will bring. Shale gas will be an economic game changer for this region with our local businesses, local workforce and local householders all benefiting. Exciting economic times lay ahead for the north of England."

A spokesperson for Third Energy said: “Third Energy, which has been producing gas and energy safely and securely in North Yorkshire for over 20 years, is a firm believer that the local community should benefit from any unconventional gas production in the local area.

"We welcome a consultation on the proposal for a shale gas wealth fund, which would be in addition to the community benefits and community charter agreed by the onshore oil and gas industry, and look forward to a successful test frack at KM8, which should lead to an expansion in gas production in North Yorkshire which in turn would deliver revenues to make any fund viable.”