ARRESTS were made as police clashed with anti-fracking protestors in Kirby Misperton today.

The day marked the beginning of preparation work at the Third Energy gas well.

Protesters gathered at the entrance to the site from 7am onwards, blocking the entrance way before being moved by police.

By 10am the protesters, many sat on chairs in the September sunshine, were kept behind lines of police officers. Some played music and sang songs.

A police presence of about 50 officers were in place to ensure delivery lorries could get past the protestors. Police vehicles also acted as escorts for the lorries.

The road was closed to traffic for much of the morning.

A 69-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer, and a 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.

The 69-year-old remains in custody and the 33-year-old has been released with no further action being taken.

These are the first arrests of the anti-fracking campaign in North Yorkshire.

Philip Tate, an anti-fracking campaigner and onlooker, said: "How has it come to this - 50 police on a local lane in Ryedale?"

Tim Thornton, a district councillor who is against fracking, was also at the scene. He said issues of climate change and public health were key reasons that opposition to fracking must be demonstrated.

"The people here today are not professional protestors," he said. "They're protectors of the environment - not for themselves but for their children and their grandchildren. And they care deeply about the risk that their countryside, their air, and their water, is being put into.

"Climate change is an escalating issue and will get worse unless we do something very quickly.

"Right now, hurricanes are queuing up, one after another, to batter the West Indies."

There has been criticism of the scale of the police presence.
Darron Callender of Strensall, said: "As a local businessman, I am very concerned about the cost of policing and stretch of policing resources at North Yorkshire fracking sites.

"At a time when we are at a high terrorist threat level, it seems a total mismanagement that NYP are wasting resources on "private" security of commercial fracking companies."

But Superintendent Alisdair Dey, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "We know that there are very different views about hydraulic fracturing, but as the local police, our responsibility is to carry out our duties impartially.

"We have a duty to make sure that people who want to assemble and protest do so safely, balanced against a duty to ensure that businesses can go about their lawful commercial activity.

"Police liaison officers have been engaging with the protest community, and will continue to do so, explaining what is acceptable in terms of safety and reasonableness."

A Third Energy spokesperson said that the deliveries have included wheel wash facilities to ensure their lorries don’t deposit mud on local roads; water tanks that will be used to flush through the water pipeline and the containers that will form the base of the noise barrier  that will surround the site.

They added: "Before the hydraulic fracture procedures can begin, Third Energy’s hydraulic fracture plan must be approved by both the Oil & Gas Authority and the Environment Agency.

"Once this is approved, final consent is required from the Secretary of State."

Commenting on the start of mobilisation, John Dewar, director of operations, said: "After almost three years of planning it is very rewarding to now be starting work at the well site.

"We look forward to running a safe and successful operation that will be carried out with minimal impact on local residents and the environment."