FRACKING is a controversial topic, evoking very strong emotions.
Last month, North Yorkshire County Council voted 7-4 to allow fracking – which involves extracting natural gas and oil by drilling down deep into the Earth’s crust – near the village of Kirby Misperton.
It was the first fracking application to be approved in the UK for five years.
Supporters say fracking allows access to more natural deposits of gas and oil than ever before, reduces our dependency on foreign oil and, over time, will create thousands of jobs.
But fracking has been mired in controversy since it hit the headlines in 2011 for causing two minor earthquakes in Lancashire, prompting a temporary ban on fracking in the UK. The ban was later lifted, with controls put in place to prevent tremors. However, opponents argue the practice can also cause water contamination, noise and traffic pollution.
Environmentalists further warn that pursuing new sources of gas – a fossil fuel – is not compatible with efforts to tackle climate change, and that the focus should be on developing cleaner sources of energy, such as renewables.
Now, another disadvantage has been thrown into the mix by Skipton county and district councillor, Andy Solloway.
He says fracking could have dire consequences on policing in Craven, as officers are taken away to keep watch over protests and demonstrations in the short-term and to protect sites from terrorism and sabotage in the longer term.
His concerns have been dismissed by local Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, who says she does not expect any resourcing issues as a result of fracking decisions.
So, are we right to be concerned? We know the force is already overstretched and it really does not need any additional strain placing on its limited resources.
In our view, the direct and indirect consequences of fracking need much more thought.