THE mayor of Malton has launched legal action against the Government over its fracking policy.

Cllr Paul Andrews has started private legal proceedings by applying for a Judicial Review to challenge a recent Written Ministerial Statement on fracking.

The statement, which was published on May 17 by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, sets out changes in Government policy on how local planning authorities should deal with fracking applications.

It reiterates the Government’s view that there are potentially substantial benefits from the safe and sustainable exploration and development of onshore shale gas resources.

However, following legal advice, Cllr Andrews has instructed his solicitors to issue proceedings for a Judicial Review.

Cllr Andrews, who is also a member of Ryedale District Council and chairman of Habton Parish Council, said: “I am taking this legal action as a private individual as I consider it my duty to protect the interests of the communities I represent.

Fracking will industrialise our beautiful countryside and destroy our rural economy and tourist businesses. Somebody has to stand up against the bullies in government and the greed of the oil and gas industry. This is about defending your property, your family’s health and your local democratic rights. Would you want full scale industrial fracking only 300 metres of your home?

“The statement seeks to impose an unacceptable level of Government control on regional planning authorities, and will significantly reduce the ability of democratically elected local councils to establish their own parameters for fracking in their area.”

Mr Andrews added: “In particular, this statement is clearly a direct challenge to the North Yorkshire Minerals and Waste Joint Plan, which was provisionally approved by a government inspector in April, subject to some alterations.

“This plan, which is the result of many thousands of hours work by local officials and numerous consultees over four years, seeks to find a compromise between the interests of the oil and gas industry and the concerns of local residents, businesses, parish councils, farmers, landowners and the rural tourist industry.

“This statement was issued unilaterally without public consultation at the whim of the government and its friends in the oil and gas industry, and has no democratic legitimacy whatsoever. It was also issued in such haste that Secretary of State failed to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment on the proposals, as required by law. The statement has already been heavily criticised by the Communities and Government Select Committee, who condemned its publication only a few days before the Committee published its own report on planning guidance for fracking.”

Steve Mason, from Frack Free Ryedale, said: “What Paul Andrews has done is incredibly noble and we hope his legal action has the desired effect and halts the Government’s plans for fracking in its tracks.

“If the statement is allowed to proceed unchecked, the consequences for Ryedale and Yorkshire will be dire. This is a red line that, if crossed, will enable fracking to spread unchecked, without local decision making and give the green light to the oil, gas and plastics corporations to drill wherever they want. It will be tantamount to drilling by dictatorship.”

An online crowdfunder to support Cllr Andrews’ private legal challenge has been set up at