RYEDALE gas firm Third Energy has said it doesn’t know when it will conduct its test frack at Kirby Misperton - but it won’t be this year.

The company started final preparations for the operation this time last year after completing its planning permission conditions - and said it was confident it would frack by Christmas 2017.

However, demands of a financial resilience assessment and the removal of the fracking equipment from the site meant that they then had to postpone until the autumn.

Now a Third Energy spokesman has said that not only is there still the need to achieve final Government consent and uncertainty as to the availability of key equipment, there is also the requirement to undertake a three-month groundwater survey prior to operations.

A spokesman said: “As per the regulations and permit conditions, because the pause in operations had extended, we will need to repeat the monitoring. This is something of which we have always been aware and certainly not anything new.

“At this stage we do not have dates as to when the hydraulic fracturing operations will resume.

“We will communicate with the local community when we can be more definite on timings.”

The delay follows the high-profile resignations of two of the company’s directors on September 12 - Lord Jitesh Gadhia and former Carillion boss Keith Cochrane.

Both had joined the company last September. Third Energy confirmed the departure of the pair and said it resulted from “low levels of activity”.

The spokesman said: “Keith Cochrane and Lord Gadhia were appointed as chairman and senior independent director respectively of Third Energy Onshore Limited to advise on Third Energy’s onshore business development.

“As the hydraulic fracturing programme and further development is currently delayed, with resulting low levels of activity, the Company has accepted the directors’ resignations.”

The news was welcomed by critics of fracking.

Russell Scott, from campaign group Frack Free Ryedale, said: “Keith Cochrane and Jitesh Gadhia were brought in by Third Energy just over a year ago in an attempt to provide credibility and stability to the struggling fracking firm.

“A year later Third Energy has failed to float the company on the stock market, failed to prove to the government it is financially viable, key infrastructure no longer holds valid planning permits, and it has failed to frack at Kirby Misperton.”