A GAS company which has planned to frack for shale gas in Ryedale has thrown down an ultimatum to the government to end its “unworkable” shale policy - or shut the industry down altogether.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of the company INEOS, described the government’s current position as “unworkable, unhelpful and playing politics with the country’s future”.

On Monday INEOS called for the government to increase the shale seismicity limit from an “unworkable” 0.5 to “a more sensible level” on the logarithmic Richter scale.

Sir Jim said: “The limit within the US is typically set at 4.0. To put that into perspective, magnitude 4.0 is 3,162 times higher than 0.5. The government needs to decide whether it is finally going to develop a workable UK onshore gas industry”.

Seismicity - earth tremors - have been playing havoc with Cuadrilla’s attempts to frack in Lancashire, with the company having to stop work four times in two months at the end of last year due to small earthquakes.