HUNDREDS of anti-fracking protesters took to the streets of Pickering on Saturday in a demonstration of their continued opposition to the controversial technique.

The “family friendly” day began at the castle at noon, with the demonstration being followed by the switching on of the Pickering Christmas lights.

The protest comes following a week of uncertainty for the fracking plans at Kirby Misperton.

On Thursday, campaigners welcomed the news that fracking "may be delayed until after Christmas" due to a legal loophole.

The department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) admitted it had worked to close a loophole in the Infrastructure Act 2015, which relates to the fact that secretary of state Greg Clark must give consent to fracking operations.

The 2015 Act introduced consent as “an additional step to the existing regulatory and permitting regime”.

However, it did not apply to wells drilled before the act came into force.

Gas company Third Energy drilled the KM8 well in 2013.

On Thursday, Greg Clark brought a new direction before Parliament clarifying the process, meaning that all operators will now have to apply to BEIS for the consent, even if the well was drilled prior to 2015.

Anti-fracking campaigners described the blunder as a “stay of execution”.

Steve Mason, of Frack-Free Ryedale, said: “It looks like this legal loophole will delay the frack for a few weeks.

“This is just a stay of execution - we will continue to fight the industry.”

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, who supports fracking, said: “This new development is a technicality and it has caused delays in the provision of consent, but it is right and proper that all operations are subject to the same scrutiny and procedure.

“It does not affect the comprehensive regime of regulations in place which will ensure that fracking is subject to detailed regulations and monitoring.”

A Third Energy spokesman said: “Third Energy has followed the regulatory regime as required by the Infrastructure Act 2015.

“We are very conscious of the obligations under this regime and have done everything that is required by regulations.”