ALL legal channels have now been exhausted in their campaign against shale gas by Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale.

The only weapons left at their disposal are social media, and the protest camp at Kirby Mispterton.

If they think slow walking the trucks to the well site will have any effect or cause delays to Third Energy’s operations, they are deluded.

Their only achievement will be to annoy local residents and businesses. Hardly a vote winning strategy.

I campaign in favour of shale gas convinced that the natural gas under our feet should be viewed as an asset rather than a liability. A secure, ample gas supply is of national importance in this volatile world.

The UK already has an existing extensive gas distribution infrastructure supplying 22 million homes.

Gas is also a building block used in industrial processes creating millions of everyday products including medicines, helping keep us alive. Frequently, about 50 per cent of our electricity generation is from gas.

Ryedale District councillors would show great foresight if they now started to openly engage and communicate with the gas companies.

We need a council who will work for the whole community ensuring the gas companies abide by their pledges of local job creation and contracts for local businesses in the supply chain.

A good working relationship can only positively help guide the companies as to where and when their operations would be best placed, helping to minimise any inconvenience to local communities.

History tells us that councils who work with companies, rather than against, create the best outcomes for all.

Ryedale District councillors originally voted against the application, now’s the time for reconciliation and positive actions that will help Ryedale benefit.

Will our council representatives now bury the hatchet and do what is best for Ryedale?

Lorraine Allanson, Allerston

Democratic right

I MUST take issue with Stephen Prest’s accusation that I, and thousands of other electors in Ryedale, did not vote for candidates that explicitly rejected fracking.

Having been to a hustings during the campaign, I can say the majority of the seven candidates, including the Green Party candidate that I voted for, the Liberal and Liberal Democrat candidates, explicitly rejected fracking, and others have successfully lobbied to change other party policies, so that now both Liberal Democrats and Labour join the Liberal and Green Party in calling for a complete ban on fracking.

Even our MP is on record as saying the majority of people in Ryedale are opposed to fracking, though he won’t condemn the fracking near people’s homes in Kirby Misperton.

But democracy does not start and end at the ballot box every five years in national elections.

People can stand and campaign in local elections, such as the upcoming county elections in May, join political parties and seek to influence policy.

We object to fracking planning applications, parish and district councillors reject fracking, and government’s own figures put support for fracking at just 17 per cent, but still they don’t get the message, which leaves direct action the only way to defend our human rights.

We have a democratic right to peaceful protest, which the camp is committed to as it aims for a complete ban on fracking.

And believe it or not, there is a hierarchy in laws, such that human rights law stands above all other laws: many fundamental human rights are threatened by fracking, such as access to clean water, as is evidenced by the recent final report by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The peaceful occupation of a multi-millionaire’s disused and uncultivated field should be seen in that light.

Ian Conlan, Malton

Nobody is above law

LORRAINE Allanson is right to condemn county council’s waste of £38,000 of tax payers money on defending the judicial review regarding the planning decision to allow fracking at KM8, but wrong to call the decision democratic.

The decision was made by a committee of 10, none of them from Ryedale, against the recommendations of Ryedale District Council, which recommended refusal.

County would not have got involved in legal proceedings if they had either refused permission or had simply decided not to make a decision – options which were open to councillors. If they had followed either of these courses of action, there would no doubt have been an appeal, and the decision would have been left with central government taking full responsibility – and the legal costs of any legal challenge.

We live in a democratic society, which is ordered by the Rule of Law. Ordinary people are entitled to challenge decisions, and nobody is above the law – least of all county.

In this case we saw the preposterous situation where we have a legally adopted Ryedale Plan (approved by county) which designates the Vale of Pickering as an “Area of High Landscape Value” and virtually prohibits the building of new houses and factories there, but this has not stopped county from permitting fracking development at Kirby Misperton. Where is the sense in that?

In the circumstances, the litigants were right to take legal proceedings against county, and county should never have put themselves into a position where they knew they would face a legal challenge.

Councillor Paul Andrews, Malton Ward RDC and chairman of Habton Parish Council