North Yorkshire Council is to recommend that tests for fracking SHOULD go ahead on fields near the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.
A UK firm has applied for permission under the Government's new fast-tracking scheme to explore for shale gas around the village of Kirby Misperton.
It's lead to angry protests from environmental campaigners and locals with concerns over the controversial technique.
Work on the site moved a step closer after a report by North Yorkshire County Council recommended permission is granted for testing on deposits first identified in the area by Third Energy in 2013.
The report admitted that many of the 4,000 representations it had received in consultation were in objection to the plans, with concerns raised over impacts on climate change, water quality, air pollution and the possibility drilling would trigger earthquakes.
Environmentalists accused planning officers of dismissing "serious risks" associated with fracking in the area despite there being "clear evidence" it could harm wildlife, people's health and local businesses.
Campaigners from across the country have pledged to stage a protest against the plans when North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee meets on May 20
Dame Vivienne Westwood is expected to attend the meeting.
In August the Government announced new measures to speed up the process by which companies can apply for planning permission at drill sites.
Energy ministers said the plans would both ensure local people have a "strong say" over the development of shale exploration in their area and benefit communities and firms by speeding up the planning process.
North Yorkshire County Council's report recommended the project should go ahead as it would help to provide for the nation's energy needs and said there would be sufficient safeguarding measures put in place to protect the environment.
What is fracking?
- Fracking is a technique used to drill for deposits of fossil fuels that cannot be extracted by conventional means.
- It involves pumping fluids into rocks at such high pressures they fracture, releasing the gas or oil locked inside.
- Critics say the process is disastrous for the environment, leading to pollution of ground water and even triggering earthquakes.
- Britain is thought to have large deposits of shale gas that can be exploited by using the method.
Statement from Third Energy
Statement from North Yorkshire County Council