The first fracking operation in England since a ban was lifted in 2012 has been approved at a site close to the North York Moors National Park. Yorkshire now has the chance to be at the centre of Europe’s new fracking industry.
When any fracking application is discussed attention focuses on the environmental arguments, but what could fracking in North Yorkshire mean for the regional economy?
“Our region has the chance to be at the centre of Europe’s new fracking industry,” according to Paul Glover, the chair of Petrophysics at the University of Leeds.
“Its all about first mover advantage. Look at what happened in Scotland. When they found oil under the North Sea they had a choice to base the new industry in either Aberdeen and Dundee. Aberdeen was chosen and history shows us that it’s done very well.”
For two days the often spirited arguments that were laid out at County Hall in Northallerton centred on the potential environmental impact of the development at Kirby Misperton by Third Energy.
In contrast, business and economic opinion about the plans to frack for shale gas has been more understated.
“The issue of fracking hasn’t come up as a business issue. Our members haven’t told us if they’re excited or concerned about the process,” says Sandy Needham, the chief executive of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.
North Yorkshire has been at the centre of a number of recent controversial planning applications. Not only has fracking attracted protesters from across the UK but last year the North Yorkshire Moors Park Authority gave approval for a £1.7m potash mine to be built within the National Park.
The developers of both proposals have promised that the respective projects would bring substantial economic benefits to the wider area.
“Potash did generate a lot of interest because businesses could see tangible benefits; with fracking it’s still an unknown,” added Mr Needham.
“Manufacturing is not as visible as the tourism industry is within the region.”