GAS company Third Energy has said that anti-fracking protesters are “hardly slowing its operations down” and it still aims to have completed the test frack by Christmas.

Currently the company is constructing a nine-metre high sound barrier around the fracking site. The base of the barrier is made of shipping containers, each filled with 20 tonnes of sand, designed to deaden the noise from the pumps when they are in operation.

Also on site are the 10,000 feet of pipes which will extend underground. They will carry the pressurised water and sand down to fracture deep shale rock - and carry any gas released back out.

Yesterday, the rig was also taken onto site on an HGV.

Speaking at the site on Thursday, operations director of Third Energy John Dewar said: “I think progress has been remarkably good, we’re on track. We’re on the last bend of the last lap of a long race.

“We started the planning for this three years ago. We had to do a lot of preparation to get the planning application approved, get the permits approved. We had a judicial review in the middle - we won that. And now we’ve got a lot of conditions to discharge and they’ve all been discharged one after the other.

“A significant milestone this week was that we handed in the hydraulic fracture plan. We’ve got a few more things to do then the jigsaw puzzle gets handed into the secretary of state for approval.

"Then we’re good to go.”

He added: “The protesters are not stopping the operation - they’re hardly slowing it down.”

Technical director Alan Linn added that the recent decision by the Scottish government to have a moratorium on fracking was “disappointing”. He said: “There isn’t a technical basis for the moratorium. It was a political decision.

“I would like to see them rethink it. We’ve now got a responsibility to demonstrate that technically what we’re doing is safe and doesn’t affect the environment.”

He added he is “all for” renewable energy such as wind and solar but that gas is required as a bridge fuel.

Outside the fracking site, protester Eddie Thornton said: “We never expected Third Energy to voluntarily stop. We know there’s no public appetite for fracking - our objective now is to cause the maximum economic disruption to the company, maximum cost to police, and maximum bad publicity for NYCC so that this well will stop but they will not even think about starting another one.

“We’ve said from day one it all starts with one well. This is a floodgate that we cannot open.”