FRUSTRATED anti-fracking demonstrators staged a brief sit-down protest at last night's Ryedale District Council meeting, after councillors voted not to debate an important county council mineral plan.

In doing so, the demonstrators prompted a commitment from Council to debate the issue at a specially-organised full council meeting in the coming weeks.

The meeting was attended by almost a hundred demonstrators, who filled the public gallery and lined the walls.

The key reason for their attendance was a proposal by Cllr Paul Andrews to employ specialist consultants to examine the county council's mineral and waste plan, which covers policy on mining, quarrying, waste disposal - and fracking.

Cllr Andrews has previously said he wants Ryedale exempt from this plan.

However, the council had already debated the idea of employing the consultants in July, and due to council rules, it could not be discussed again within six months without full council approval.

And last night, council rejected giving that approval by 17 votes to 9.

This prompted the anti-fracking members of the public to occupy the central area of the council chamber.

A period of confusion and two adjournments followed.

The stalemate ended when Cllr John Clark mediated a compromise which he said would see full council debate the issue in the coming weeks at an extra-ordinary meeting.

This proved acceptable to the chairman and the meeting was then allowed to continue.

One of the protesters, Leigh Coghill, said afterwards they had been frustrated by 'technicalities and red tape.'

"This is a beautiful agricultural area, and it's their job to protect it," she said. "We can't stand by and wait for weeks or months because that's what the rulebook says.

"I'm not thrilled, far from it, but I feel that the council heard us.

"Ryedale District Council are anti-fracking - they made that commitment. But if this council are against fracking, they need to step it up."

More from last night's meeting in the Gazette & Herald on Wednesday.