Furious environmental campaigners vowed to fight back on Tuesday after councilors in North Yorkshire approved the UK's first fracking permit in five years.
The North Yorkshire County Council on Monday approved Third Energy's application to frack the fields near the North York Moors National Park—just days after people across the country celebrated five years of being "frack-free."
"It's what happens now that matters. This is just the beginning. I believe there's a lot more that people can do. It's boots on the ground that's going to stop this now."
—Sarah Hockey, East Yorkshire
According to The Independent, "the application was passed despite the presence of hundreds of protestors, who gathered outside County Hall in Northallerton throughout the hearing which began on Friday."
In fact, a council planning officer said there had been 4,375 letters of objection and 36 of support for the application.
"It is just appalling that despite the strength of public opposition to this application it has been pushed through by councilors, who are being told what to do by a government that is determined to support the fracking industry," declared Ian Conlan from local campaign group Frack Free Ryedale. "What faith can local people have in democracy if the members of the planning committee can just completely ignore both the strength of local opinion and the sound planning grounds that objectors have raised? It is a sham."
Furthermore, said Green MEP Keith Taylor, "Councils in North Yorkshire will now find it more difficult to reject future fracking applications. This could result in hundreds of wells across Ryedale and the industrialization of North Yorkshire's precious countryside. The decision is also likely to send the message that Britain is 'up for shale' to other local authorities in England and the wider fracking industry."
Indeed, he added, the announcement "will also be welcomed by a government so determined to fast-track this dangerous industry that it is prepared to overrule authorities that wish to remain frack-free."
The Guardian reports:
The council’s decision on Monday was met with chants of “We say no” and “You will be held accountable”.
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“It is a war, now, they’ve declared on us,” said Sarah Hockey, an anti-fracking campaigner from east Yorkshire. “It’s a war on our human rights to clean air and water so we’ve got to take it like that and keep pushing and pushing and pushing.
"It's what happens now that matters," said Hockey, a teacher. "This is just the beginning. I believe there's a lot more that people can do. It's boots on the ground that's going to stop this now."
Friends of the Earth, which called the decision "a travesty," said it is considering legal action along with Frack Free Ryedale.
The two groups together on Tuesday launched a "People's Declaration" against fracking, which reads in part:
We, as people united across Yorkshire and across Britain, declare that we remain opposed to fracking in Yorkshire, in Britain, and across the world. We know that fracking carries serious risks to local people, to our health, our water, our wildlife, and contributes to climate change.
We are extremely disappointed that North Yorkshire County Council has not listened to the overwhelming wishes of the locally elected representatives of Ryedale and local people and has approved Third Energy’s application to frack in our county.
This decision is not in our name.
As local resident Sue Gough said on Monday: "We have fought and will continue to fight fracking for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and future generations."