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Exploratory Fracking at Kirby Misperton, Yorkshire, UK


The small Yorkshire village of Kirby Misperton has become a fracking front line, with ongoing protests since Third Energy were granted planning permission to carry out hydraulic fracturing tests. If the tests are successful, this will be the first well in the country to go into production, and could set precedent for many more fracking wells to be built across the region and the rest country in the coming years.

After submitting applications in 2012, Third Energy were given local planning permission in 2016 and began preparatory work for fracking at the site near Kirby Misperton in 2017. The company is extending the Ryedale conventional field, using the existing Kirby Misperton Deep (KM8) well to see if gas can be made to flow by fracking tight sandstone layers of Bowland Shale, which runs across the north of England, at a depth of up to 10,000 feet [1] [2]. Fracking involves directing a high pressure fracking fluid of water, sand and chemicals at the rock to force out gas.

Third Energy's application to frack at Kirby Misperton received 4,275 objections and only 36 letters in favour. The application was also opposed by Ryedale District Council, all five town councils in Ryedale, every Parish Council near the well-site, The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Howard Estate and Flamingo Land, Ryedale's flagship tourist attraction only 1 mile from the well-site [3].

Since starting work the company has experienced a number of setbacks including persistent protests, and is still awaiting final approval from the UK government who are requiring the company to complete financial checks [4]. A ban on fracking in Scotland declared in 2017 accompanied by a decline in public support of the extractive method [5].  

Since fracking preparations began in May 2017, there has been an ongoing blockade with caravans and tents at the site by local and national activists, where peaceful protests, slow walking, lock ons and lorry surfing have prevented vehicles entering the site. The police have had a heavy presence, arresting activists and costing over £560,000 in public spending as of December 2017 [6]. Protestors are supported with refreshments thanks to the renowned “anti-fracking tea lady” despite police intimidation [7], and activists have constructed the Kirby Misperton Community Protection Camp [8], where food and items are donated by the community. There have also been nationwide campaigns, petitions and street protests supported by environmental groups nationwide to encourage Barclays, who own Third Energy, to "Stop Backing Fracking" [9]. 

According to local group Frack Free Ryedale, “thousands of residents and friends of Ryedale continue to fight against the industrialisation of the North Yorkshire countryside by the fracking industry, which threatens our way of life, our health, our countryside, our water, our wildlife, our farming and our tourism industry”. People who live near fracking wells are deeply concerned about the impact of fracking on their health and well-being, with a likely increase in air pollution, thousands of HGV movements per production well, possible chemical spills and threats to water courses. Others point out that fracking will tie the UK into a new fossil fuel industry for decades to come, at a time when we need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions to slow climate change, and make the transition to green energy and a low-carbon economy [3].  

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Exploratory Fracking at Kirby Misperton, Yorkshire, UK
Country:United Kingdom
State or province:North Yorkshire
Location of conflict:Kirby Misperton
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to the British Geological Survey, Britain is sitting on shale gas deposits that could supply the UK for 25 years. A report in 2013 suggested an area stretching from Lancashire to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire could hold at least 1,300tn cubic feet of gas. [5]

Fracking at Kirby Misperton is still at the exploratory phase, with commercial development and production up to three years away.

Level of Investment:not clear figures available
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:400+
Start of the conflict:01/10/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Third Energy from United Kingdom - Operating Fracking
Barclays Bank - 97% stake in Third Energy
Halliburton from United States of America
Relevant government actors:North Yorkshire County Council
UK Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Frack Free Ryedale
Frack Free Kirby Misperton
Friends of the Earth
People and Planet
Sum of Us
Fossil Free
Reclaim the Power
Green Party

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Country wide activist organizations and networks
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsImpact on tourism and house prices


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The project is awaiting final approval

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Planning Applications and Environmental Permits

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[8] Kirby Misperton Protection Camp

[3] Frack Free Ryedale



[4] Kirby Misperton fracking permission postponed for financial checks (BBC)

[5] UK fracking to begin in earnest in 2018 after tough year for industry ( The Guardian)

[6] Kirby Misperton fracking protest costs taxpayer over £560,000 (Yorkshire Post)

[9] Stop Barclays Fracking

[7] Anti-fracking tea lady vows to fight order to move catering van (The Guardian)

Other documents

Police remove tea and refreshments An elderly tea-lady was forcibly moved from her table by police at the Kirby Misperton fracking site (Photo: Yorkshire Post)

Anti-fracking protesters Protesters use their bodies to blockade the site entrance (Photo: Gazette & Herald)

Kirby Misperton Protection Camp Activists are supported by the local community at the pop-up camp (Photo: The Northern Echo)

Meta information

Contributor:Alice Owen [email protected]
Last update30/01/2018



Kirby Misperton Protection Camp

Activists are supported by the local community at the pop-up camp (Photo: The Northern Echo)

Anti-fracking protesters

Protesters use their bodies to blockade the site entrance (Photo: Gazette & Herald)