WHAT’S been making the headlines locally in 2018? We look at some of the news that’s been happening in the district of Ryedale this year, from January to June:


  • 2018 saw the first UK land frack in around seven years, over in Lancashire; but locally the year started badly for the industry. In January, Knapton-based gas company Third Energy was told by Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, that it had to prove its “financial resilience” before it was given final permission to frack at Kirby Misperton. At that time, the company was sat poised at its well-site, ready to undertake a series of test fracks. Following Mr Clark’s intervention, however, the site fell silent and key equipment was moved away. To date, no fracking has yet taken place in Ryedale.


  • The illegal killing of birds of prey on the North York Moors by people involved in the grouse shooting industry was the target of a new police campaign. Operation Owl was a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the RSPB and the RSPCA, together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless, birds of prey (raptors) are still shot, poisoned and trapped – especially in areas where the land is managed for driven grouse shooting. Sergeant Kevin Kelly, part of the police rural taskforce, said at the launch: “It is absolutely unacceptable that people think they can ignore the law and subject these birds to poisonings, shootings, nest destruction and the illegal use of spring traps without consequence. We will be doing everything in our power to catch these offenders.”
  • At the tail end of February, the “Beast from the East” struck the country. Thick and heavy snow fell for several days amid a wintry blast. Schools closed, police warned against non-necessary travel, and an army of council gritters and farming contractors took to the major routes to keep them clear.


  • The first signs for a contentious ban on heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were installed at the level crossing in Malton and Norton. The ban, which is temporary for 18 months, proved controversial. Norton county councillor Keane Duncan said at the time: “A vocal minority are backing a HGV ban that is completely incompatible with our town’s mainly Victorian infrastructure. Without major bypass improvements, I continue to fear that the ban will have only negligible impact on air quality and defeat the entire object of the scheme.” Now, almost a year after it was implemented, a small number of drivers have been prosecuted for flouting the ban and councillors remain concerned on the impact on traffic in surrounding villages.
  • Heroic father-and-son duo Phil Burdett and his son Ocean, who live in Hambleton Road, Norton, told the Gazette how they saved a neighbour’s life as her house was engulfed in flames. The pair were watching television one night in March when they looked out of the window and saw smoke in the street. Phil said: “We went outside and saw that the house two doors down from us was on fire and I could see flames in the front room when I looked through the window.” The pair broke into the front door and saw the house’s occupant - their neighbour of 20 years - unconscious half-way up the stairs. Phil said: “We managed to drag her out as she was unconscious and just as we got her out of the door there was a huge explosion which blew the windows out. We are just thankful that we were able to save her life.”


  • It was revealed that part of the North York Moors Railway in Wartime Weekend event wouldn’t be taking place this year - for fear of causing offence. Traditionally, the railway has transformed the station at Levisham into an occupied French village as part of the event, complete with re-enactors in German army uniforms. But the railway said: “Expectations currently reflected in the recent Equalities Act mean that the charity must avoid causing offence to any section of the public. Due to the trust’s obligation to consider diversity and possible offence, careful consideration has been taken to decide whether it is right for the German re-enactment at Levisham Station to continue.” Re-enactors said they were “saddened” and “disappointed” by the decision.
  • The decision to knock down and replace the historic Saltersgate Inn on the A169 near the Hole of Horcum was taken at a meeting of the North York Moors planning committee. A spokesman for the authority’s planning department said the decision was unanimous, and that the pub had been a victim of the financial crash in 2008 which halted a planned re-development. The demolished inn is being replaced with a café and tap room. The Saltersgate Inn, which dates back to 1648, closed towards the end of 2007. The pub was famed as a haunt for smugglers taking salt and rum across the moors.


  • A Ryedale stately home was the stage for an Arctic Monkeys’ music video in May. Castle Howard played host to the band and their crew while they filmed the video for their single Four Out Of Five from sixth album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Nick Howard said: “After several days of channelling Stanley Kubrick, the house still echoes to the sounds of the Arctic Monkeys.” The album has grown in stature since its release and is now being widely heralded as one of the best albums of the year in the music press.
  • In Malton and Norton, traffic woes and the creaking infrastructure of the two towns has never been far from the news. In May, calls for urgent action on traffic was made by local Liberal Democrats. The party suggested a range of schemes including a one-way system and better pedestrian and cycle access between Malton and Norton. Steve Mason, who travels through the towns on a daily basis, said: “Malton’s motorists and pedestrians cannot wait while the county and district councils spend years considering plans and a fortune on consultants – we need action now if plans are to be in place before the train service increases next year.”


  • A local photographer created a calendar featuring local women in order to raise awareness of the connection between body image and mental health. Nicole Vogwill photographed 11 women for the calendar to raise money and awareness of the charity Mind. The 23-year-old, who lives in Settrington, said: “I’d been wanting to do a project that highlighted everybody for a long while, something that took away all the usual glamour and glitz and focused on the person in front of my camera. “When I realised the effect photography has on people, on how they feel about themselves, whether it be negative or positive, it gave me a better understanding of how body image and mental health are connected, so I decided to not only follow through with this project, but to raise money and awareness for Mind in the process.”
  • Ryedale’s two swimming clubs, Derwent Valley and Ryedale, welcomed the decision that they can continue to deliver learn-to-swim lessons. The decision was made by Ryedale District Council, which opted not to give a monopoly on lessons to leisure contractor Everyone Active (EA). The decision marked the culmination of a lengthy battle for the clubs, who were told by EA last year that the company wished to enact its policy of being sole deliverer of lessons.