A RYEDALE councillor is once again fundraising to defend fracking safeguards which he describes as being “under attack”.

Paul Andrews is aiming to raise £6,000 through crowdjustice.com to engage legal counsel for a re-opening of the examination in public of North Yorkshire County Council’s mineral and waste joint plan.

The plan - which will guide policy on planning applications for fracking operations in the county for the next 15 years - has already been examined publicly once by planning inspector Elizabeth Ord last April.

At that time, the plan contained precautionary measures such as a 500m buffer zone round frack sites.

Mr Andrews said that the mineral and waste plan examination in public is being re-opened on January 24 and 25.

The two specific issues which are to be discussed are, he said, the 500m residential buffer and the legal definition of hydraulic fracturing which is to be applied to the plan.

“It is these safeguards which are under attack and which I and others are vigorously defending,” he said.

“In my view, it is of paramount importance that the right decisions are arrived at which strike the right balance between the amenities of residents and our beautiful rural landscape and environment on the one hand and the interest of the fracking companies on the other.”

But Lorraine Allanson, who sits on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s extractive industries transparency initiative committee, said: “If Cllr Andrews and associates are successful in implementing a 500m set back distance it will make a UK gas industry virtually non-existent.

“Meanwhile, we will still be importing gas. The UK produces around 50 per cent of electricity by gas and heats 85 per cent of homes using gas. We import 50 per cent of our total gas requirements, expected to hit 80 per cent by 2050.

“Presently, it costs consumers almost £5 billion per annum for imports, that’s bad for consumers, the environment and our country’s economy.”

This won’t be the first fundraising Mr Andrews has done to fund legal fights around fracking law.

Following Ms Ord’s first examination in April, a Minister’s Written Statement (MWS) was issued on May 17 which Mr Andrews said applied a different legal definition of fracking to the one in the council’s policy.

In August, he decided to challenge this in the High Court.

Mr Andrews said: “The statement seemed to have been drafted with the intention of undermining the inspector’s provisional decisions, and seemed to require mineral planning authorities to apply the Infrastructure Act definition of hydraulic fracturing in place of the definition agreed with the inspector.

“I challenged the MWS in the High Court and £24,000 was raised through Crowd Justice to cover legal fees.”

Mr Andrews lost the challenge but said that it achieved his objectives.

“Although I did not win, the judge made it very clear in his judgement that the mineral planning authority did not have to use the Infrastructure Act definition, and that the MWS is guidance only,” he said.

“So, although the case was lost, the objectives of the case were successfully achieved.”