York & North Yorkshire

Thirsk and Malton MP 'reassured' in US about fracking

Kevin Hollinrake
Image caption Kevin Hollinrake has funded the visit to the US himself

The MP for a constituency where there is an application to allow fracking said he had been reassured about the process during a visit to the US.

Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake is in Pennsylvania, which has 10,000 fracked wells.

There is an application to frack for shale gas at Kirby Misperton in his Thirsk and Malton constituency.

Mr Hollinrake said the key was good regulation and strong supervision of those regulations.

"We came out here because we really wanted to see the reality," he said.

He has met academics and industry representatives and visited residential areas, including Dimock where people's water supply was contaminated in 2009.

"They have found a solution to that problem and to make sure those things didn't happen again," he said.

"The regulations I have seen here, the improvements they have made, do more or less parallel those in the UK.

"The key is the supervision of those regulations. Good regulations and have we got enough regulators?"

Analysis by Danni Hewson, BBC Look North business correspondent in Pennsylvania

I've been surprised to find that Pennsylvania actually has a lot in common with Yorkshire. It has lush green countryside, a vibrant tourism sector and a city built on the steel industry and has vast reserves of shale gas.

But unlike the UK this US state has been carrying out hydraulic fracturing for almost a decade. Here there are almost 10,000 wells and the massive infrastructure to treat the gas and get it where it needs to go.

Economically it has benefited many, though a drop in gas prices has resulted in a slow down of late. But there are also cautionary tales of contaminated water and fears about air quality.

Is fracking right for Yorkshire? That's a question Mr Hollinrake will be pondering on the journey home.

Mr Hollinrake said his week-long visit, which he is funding himself, was designed to enable him to answer the concerns of his constituents.

Image caption Pennsylvania has almost 10,000 well sites across the state

"There's no question that for a while there is an impact. This is a heavily industrial process, but that seems to only last for six to nine months then the impact is quite low."

He said if the UK was going to proceed with fracking then planning ahead was vital.

"We should also be realistic and honest with the public and let them make their own minds up based on actual evidence," he said.

Third Energy's application to frack an existing well at Kirby Misperton was submitted to North Yorkshire County Council in May and a public consultation is currently under way.

The proposal is strongly opposed by anti-fracking campaigners concerned about the effects on the environment.

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