WAS it ever possible for the general public to stop fracking arriving in North Yorkshire?

The strength of feeling in North Yorkshire made itself felt at the two-day planning meeting on Third Energy’s plans for Kirby Misperton.

A diverse section of society gathered on the lawns of County Hall for a peaceful protest outside the meeting on Friday and Monday. They were a mix of local residents, grandmothers, children, business people and environmentalists, all being fuelled with tea, coffee and cakes from a van (this was a Yorkshire demonstration.) Inside ten hours of statements were read out by speakers objecting to the plans.

A farmer explained how she feared a single leak from the pipe onto their land could make it impossible for them to sell their produce again – or insure against the eventuality.

Local GP Dr Tim Thornton read from studies identifying health concerns linked to fracking. Former Ryedale MP Baroness Pickering explained how fracking could jeopardise the district’s food, farming and tourism economy.

There were several speakers from locally and nationally who spoke in favour of fracking, but from a ringside seat at the planning meeting it felt the tide of public strength was against the plans – but did it count?

If the council had voted no, an appeal would have been decided by the government, not an independent planning inspector.

With the Government having said it is going “all out for shale” it wouldn’t be difficult to predict the outcome.

Perhaps as well as hosting the UK’s first shale gas site since 2011, we were also a test case in local democracy.