A RYEDALE MP has said he will call for a moratorium on fracking if protections are weakened.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Malton and Thirsk, made the comments after meeting with Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

Planning permission was granted to Third Energy in May 2016 to frack at Kirby Misperton. The frack is due to start in the next few months.

Mr Hollinrake said: “My concerns had been raised following new proposals in our General Election manifesto to change the planning status and environmental oversight.

“In a discussion with Mr Clark about the government’s future plans for shale gas, I expressed my serious reservations about the proposed changes of policy to designate non-fracking drilling as permitted development and moving the decision making from local authorities to the National Planning Regime without some of the clear guidelines and restrictions on development detailed in the North Yorkshire County Council Draft Minerals and Waste Plan.

“I also raised similar concerns about the establishment of a new Shale Gas Environmental Regulator.

“After the decision to go ahead with fracking was made in Parliament in January 2015, I helped campaign to prohibit fracking from wells that are drilled in the surface of protected areas, such as National Parks.

“My position on this has not changed. Likewise, I will continue to ensure that applications immediately outside of specified protected areas will also be subject to the same restrictions and covered under our planning laws which protect the visual impact of protected areas.

“I remain supportive of shale gas extraction so long as regulations are in place to protect both our environment and our countryside. If this does not happen, then I will call for a moratorium.”