York & North Yorkshire

Ryedale fracking: Protest camp has 'national focus'

Frack protest Image copyright PA
Image caption The protest site is about two miles away from the well

Protesters at a camp set up near a site given the go-ahead for fracking say they want to turn the site into the "national focus" for campaigning.

Third Energy was granted planning permission to extract shale gas in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale, in May, with a High Court challenge failing.

Activists moved on to private farmland near the site just before Christmas.

Third Energy said its operations would be developed in a "safe, discreet and environmentally-sensitive way".

It intends to frack an existing well - KM 8 - to establish whether gas can be commercially extracted, but the company has not yet indicated when it intends to begin the tests.

Campers said hundreds of people had come to show their support since the site was established.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The occupied land is thought to be the property of a theme park owner

Louise Hammond, from Lincolnshire, said: "This field we've taken will be full before long and it's absolutely massive.

"This is the focus now, nationally. If we can't do anything here then that's it. It's a line in the sand."

The camp was erected about two miles from the well next to a main road, with protesters entering the site without the permission of the landowner.

The occupied land is believed to be the property of Gordon Gibb, the owner of the nearby Flamingoland theme park and zoo.

Campaign group Frack Free Ryedale said: "A group of people have chosen to set up a protection camp to raise awareness of concerns about the fracking industry and the dangers it poses to health, well-being and the environment".

A Third Energy spokesperson said: "Third Energy has been producing gas and energy in Ryedale in a safe, discreet and environmentally sensitive way for more than two decades.

"We look forward to being able to develop our operations in the future in the same safe, discreet and environmentally-sensitive way."

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