CRAVEN is 'unlikely' to become an area for fracking because of its geology, councillors were told.

Nowhere in Craven, outside the national park, has been identified as an area of search for fracking – the process of extracting gas or oil trapped between layers of rock by the use of high-pressure water.

The area's underlying geology, including the Craven Fault System, made it unlikely – though not impossible – that a fracking company would be interested in applying for a licence, heard Craven District Council's spatial planning sub-committee.

It was also unlikely an application will be made for a drilling rig for fracking within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Temporary planning officer, Matthew Collins, said councillors should be reassured no part of Craven had been identified as a possible site in the minerals and waste plan, jointly produced by North Yorkshire County Council, the North York Moors National Park Authority and the City of York Council.

The plan includes the parts of Craven outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with the park authority drawing up a separate minerals and waste plan for the area inside the park.

Mr Collins said: "The fact Craven is not identified as an area for search in the plan will not provide much interest for the fracking industry.

"Although we can never say never, the fact is, it is to our benefit."

But despite reassurances, Cllr Andy Solloway (Ind), who sits on both Craven and North Yorkshire County Council, said he still had concerns the district could ultimately be identified for fracking.

His concern is the Government could take decisions away from local authorities by re-designating shale gas facilities as nationally significant.

Cllr Solloway said: "In my view, whatever your stance on this new industry, this is an attack on local democracy and the Government should leave the decisions to locally accountable people, and not remote and distant central Government.

"For now, Craven hasn't been identified, but at present it sits between two areas of the country that have – the Wolds, and further over into Pendle/Ribble Valley."

l The minerals and waste plan also includes two preferred sites in Craven for the retention of a waste transfer site and planned intensification of use at Halton East, and the retention of household waste recycling at Skibeden, off the A59.

The plan further includes proposals to safeguard the Halton East works site for the transfer of non-hazardous waste, and sites at Skibeden and Settle as household waste recycling centres.