A GAS drilling company has dismissed claims by environmentalists that it is planning to frack for shale gas under the historic streets of York.

But Dart Energy has confirmed it could begin fracking elsewhere in North Yorkshire in the next two years.

The Green Party has launched an on-line petition condemning fracking and warning that plans by Dart could endanger York's “unique architectural heritage”.

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Campaigners claim the company is looking to drill for gas under the city and council officials are considering the proposal.

However, Dart has dismissed the claim, saying the party has got it facts wrong.

The company confirmed it had a licence to explore for shale gas in a large area covering 15,000 sq km across the North of England, including a large area of North Yorkshire.

It estimated that “three or four” wells may be drilled in that area over the next two to three years.

A spokesman added: “There may be a well drilled (in North Yorkshire) in the next couple of years but access and availability of transport would preclude drilling under York.”

The company said any proposals to drill shale gas wells would need planning permission.

Yorkshire and the Humber Green Party will present an anti-fracking petition to City of York Council next month.

Andrew Cooper, Green Party energy spokesman and Kirkstall councillor, said: "It is astonishing that industry, let alone officials, are considering fracking within the City of York.

“Many York residents will be expressing their concern at the prospect of such technology being used to extract gas from underneath the city.”

North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council and North York Moors National Park confirmed on Monday that they had not yet received any planning applications from companies wishing to start fracking for gas.

The three authorities are currently working on a minerals and waste joint plan to set out their policy on fracking and other mineral extraction issues.

Coun James Alexander, Labour leader of City of York Council, said: "I am sure there will be concerns from residents about fracking near their homes so this is a hugely important issue that must be properly debated before any decision is reached.”