A WAR of words has erupted over the anti-fracking protection camp at Kirby Misperton.

Two rival petitions have been set up on the campaign site 38degrees - one calling for the removal of the camp, the other rallying support for it.

The first petition, titled Evict Protesters From Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, was set up on November 21. It was created by a group named Ryedale Against Antisocial Protestors (RAAP).

At the time of writing it had the support of 493 signatories. A spokesman for the group said: “While RAAP has been heartened to see a shift to more peaceful means of protest in recent weeks, we believe the camp is detrimental to the area and provides a key foothold for illegal activity.

“Its removal would reduce the number of protesters, thereby lessening the need for increased policing and its associated costs.”

In response, Graham Cray, a retired bishop who lives in Kirby Misperton, created a petition on the same website titled Support Kirby Misperton Protection Camp.

In the week since it was created, this petition has attracted 1,959 signatures at the time of writing.

A spokesman for the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp (KMPC) said: “KMPC, its residents and the protectors from the area around the KM8 site, are part of the wider frack-free movement. We would like to reiterate the commitment of everyone involved in this movement to non-violent, peaceful protest.

“Protest, by its nature, does cause disruption, and sometimes involves a level of considered civil disobedience that some may be uncomfortable with.

“However, none of these actions are ever designed or intended to cause alarm or distress to anyone.”

Elsewhere, this week also saw the rearranging of the cancelled county council Ryedale Area Committee meeting, which was suspended two weeks ago following protests by anti-fracking campaigners.

The meeting will now be held on December 11 at Ryedale House, in Old Malton, at 10.30am.