CONSERVATIVES in Ryedale are calling for a moratorium on fracking in the district.

The party’s councillors say there are “no definitive” answers about the implications of the controversial industry and they want to see it prohibited until at least 2023.

Cllr Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council, said that the Conservatives will present its “historic” motion at the authority’s next full council meeting on Thursday, September 5.

He said: “Forget what you think you know about the Conservatives’ stance on fracking. Conservative councillors here in Ryedale are united in our aim to protect our area, its character and its people from the potential ramifications of fracking.

“That’s why we’re calling for a moratorium until we know enough about it. We feel this is the only responsible course of action.

“Our motion sends an historic message and signals a significant break with the Conservative Government as it races to embrace the fracking industry.”

Cllr Will Oxley, who will propose the motion, said: “My personal view is that fracking is unlikely to happen as it will never prove viable.

“But while the prospect of fracking still looms over us, we want to make our position clear now.”

Cllr Chris Delaney, who owns a Ryedale-based renewable energy company, said: “By bringing forward this motion, Ryedale Conservatives are taking the lead on ensuring that the focus remains on delivering more pragmatic and tangible solutions to meet our energy needs.”

Energy firm Third Energy announced plans to begin fracking operations at its gas production scheme at Kirby Misperton in 2015 and sought planning permission from North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).

In October 2015, Ryedale District Council five-year moratorium on the controversial shale gas extraction method. However, a decision by NYCC faced a series of delays until the following May when planning permission was granted.

Anti-fracking protests grew with Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale applying for a judicial review of the decision.

However, the decision was dismissed by a High Court judge and protesters upped their game by setting up an anti-fracking camp by the site in December 2016.

The final go-ahead by NYCC for equipment to be moved onto the site was signed off the following September.

In January, Knapton-based gas company Third Energy was told by Greg Clark, the then Secretary of State for Business, that it had to prove its “financial resilience” before it was given final permission to frack. Following Mr Clark’s intervention, however, the site fell silent and key equipment was moved away.

Earlier this year Third Energy sold its onshore company to York Energy (UK) Holdings Ltd is an affiliated company of Alpha Energy, a US-based energy company focused on acquiring and operating oil and gas assets.

To date, no fracking has yet taken place in Ryedale.