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Fracking project becomes election issue

Fracking

A controversial fracking scheme has become a key campaigning issue in a Yorkshire borough ahead of next week’s election.

North Yorkshire County Council last year approved an application from Third Energy to frack for shale gas at a well in Kirby Misperton.

The decision was met with dismay by environmental groups and although Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale lost a High Court appeal against the approval in December, opposition remains to fracking at the site.

Now, with the election just days away, the issue is splitting the parties.

Conservative candidate seeking re-election as MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake has stated that fracking could provide a solution to national energy needs.

“Shale gas will provide a bridge while the UK develops renewable energy sources, improves energy efficiency and builds new nuclear plants,” he said.

But Lib Dem candidate Dinah Keal, also a spokesperson for Frack Free Ryedale, told New Civil Engineer she had been working on the anti-fracking campaign for two years.

“I’m completely and utterly opposed to fracking,” she said.

“It will be bad for the local economy because we rely heavily on tourism in this area, and agriculture, both of which would be put at risk by this industry should something go wrong.”

The Labour and Green candidates for the seat are also opposed to fracking. Keal said she hoped public opinion would help swing voters away from the Conservatives.

“There is overwhelming opposition to fracking in this area,” she said.

“I would like to think that it will make a difference to the majority that the Tory [Hollinrake] got last time, but this is a very, very entrenched Conservative area, so you know, we will have to wait and see, but obviously the other parties are all campaigning as hard as we can on this agenda.”

In the 2015 general election, Hollinrake received a 52.6% share of the vote in Thirsk and Malton. In contrast, Keal received 9% and Labour’s Alan Avery received 15.5%.

New Civil Engineer has contacted Hollinrake for comment.

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