Fears that a Ryedale village could become a “Fracking” hotspot have been dismissed by a gas company.
At an open meeting last week, the campaign group Frack Free Yorkshire raised the concerns with members of the public after a drilling rig was spotted at Alma Farm, Kirby Misperton.
But a spokesman for Viking Gas said the rig was just being used to drill an exploration well with the results then being taken away for analysis before any decision is taken on whether it would produce any gas.
The company has planning permission to drill the site.
It has emerged however that Frack Free Yorkshire has written to Ryedale District Council and North Yorkshire County Council to ask them to “check Viking’s compliance with the planning decision” as well as contacting local councillors to ask them for their support.
The Mercury also understands that officers from North Yorkshire County Council have visited the site and confirmed compliance.
Frack Free Yorkshire also say that Friends of the Earth intend to check with their lawyers and planning experts to check for any irregularities.
Among their fears is that the rig used at the site, near Pickering, is the same one owned by Cuadrilla that was used for “hydraulic fracturing” in Blackpool in April and May, 2011, that led to a “number of seismic events” - with one tremor measuring 2.3 on the Richter scale.
Hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - involves pumping a solution at high pressure to crack through rock formations, allowing trapped gas to flow and be collected.
The process, which is widespread in the US, has prompted concerns in the UK about the chemicals used in the process and the effect on the water table, although the process has been used safely across the UK for many decades.
It has, however, meant that gas prices in the US have stayed extremely low.
But Viking Gas has moved to dispel any fears, saying that the drilling rig was rented from PR Marriot Drilling Ltd purely to drill an exploration well on the existing site and that there is no connection between Viking Gas and Cuadrilla.
“A lot of people have seen the drilling rig and assumed something else is going on but it is simply a drilling rig,” said a spokesman for the company. “Viking has planning permission to drill an exploration well at the existing site. This work has been completed and the rig is now off hire and has left the site. We are now in the process of analysing samples to see if there is any gas there. If the results show there is gas present, we will then have to decide whether there is sufficient gas there for it to be economically and technically viable. I can also confirm that there is no link between Cuadrilla and Viking UK Gas.