LIBERAL Democrat leader Tim Farron has said there is "genuine concern" about fracking during a visit to Ryedale.

Mr Farron, who was in the district to appear on the BBC Radio 4 show Any Questions? in Pickering, visited Kirby Misperton ahead of the recording on Friday evening and spoke with residents.

During the programme, recorded at the Kirk Theatre, responding to a question from an audience member, Mr Farron said: "It's obvious from talking to people at Kirby Misperton that there is genuine concern about the impact of fracking.

"But the two even bigger issues are why, when we have just signed the Paris climate change agreement and are trying to tackle the biggest earthly threat we face, are we signing up to yet another fossil fuel?

"And secondly what frustrates me is the economic consequences, because there may be some short-term benefits, but the jobs in shale gas do not last for any length of time. The UK had a burgeoning, massively impressive, growing green energy industry yet over the last 12 to 14 months we've seen nearly 20,000 jobs lost in the solar power industry alone.

"Over 95 per cent of the supply chain for renewables is British – if you invest in that you not only protect the environment, and create the energy we need, you also back British industry and that is what we should be doing instead of fracking."

The county council's decision to grant planning permission to a "test-frack" at the wellsite near the village is due to be challenged in a judicial review in the High Court in November.

Conservative MP Brandon Lewis said in defence of the fracking industry: "We do need to make sure we've got the energy the country needs. It needs to be a good energy mix and fracking can play an important part in that.

"In terms of the decision here locally, it is a decision that's been made by locally-elected councillors, who are locally democratically accountable.

"That is how our democratic system works."