A PUBLIC footpath which runs adjacent to the fracking well-site outside Kirby Misperton reopened yesterday (Tuesday).

The move comes as protesters continue to pack up the so-called Forward Protection Camp, which has been based on the verge in Habton Road and has been the key focus of anti-fracking protest activity for the last year.

Mike Roberts, head of highway operations for North Yorkshire County Council, (NYCC) said: “The county council has continued to hold discussions with Third Energy regarding the public footpath and I can now confirm that it has been agreed that the footpath will be re-opened for use by the general public.”

Protester Eddie Thornton said: “Normally it would take an act of parliament to deny access to the public, but NYCC were able to close it on health and safety grounds at the request of North Yorkshire Police.

“Today we have come together as a community to celebrate the reopening of the footpath and the fact that dog walkers, ramblers and other users have their rights back.

“We are also celebrating the withdrawal of Third Energy and I don’t believe they will be back, however another company may move in in the autumn and we will be ready for them.”

Last week, the Ryedale Against Anti-Social Protesters (RAAP) group handed a 650-strong petition to Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake requesting that no new camps are established in the area in future.

Nick Hardman, one of the petition organisers, said: “Just because the protestors are packing up to leave, it doesn’t mean they won’t be back.”

Bob Batty, from the group, added: “We were delighted to be able to present our local MP with a 650-strong petition to highlight the strength of feeling that exists.”

Mr Hollinrake said: “Of course, people are entitled to protest but there is a limit and residents should be allowed to go about their daily lives.

“Protesters cross the line when they act illegally such as jumping on moving vehicles.”