ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners will deliver a petition to North Yorkshire County Council urging it to prevent gas extraction firms from fracking.

York and Ryedale Friends Of The Earth members Josie Downs and Glyn Wild said unless the authority moved swiftly against the controversial pressure mining technique, swathes of the county could look markedly different in the coming years.

Drilling firms believe there are trillions of cubic feet of shale gas underneath parts of northern England, including North Yorkshire, which could be recovered through fracking.

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Fracking involves drilling into the earth before sand, water and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure, causing gas to flow out.

Mrs Downs will present a 40-signature petition to the authority’s chairman, Councillor Bernard Bateman, at County Hall, Northallerton, today (Friday, March 21).

She will call on the council to follow a number of its counterparts in passing a motion opposing fracking and supporting renewable energy sources and energy-saving drives.

The retired veterinary nurse said fracking in North Yorkshire could lead to drinking water becoming contaminated and would be unlikely to deliver cuts in consumers’ fuel bills.

Mrs Downs said: “Fracking is overhyped and unnecessary and a dangerous distraction from the real solutions to our energy needs.”

North Yorkshire County Council confirmed yesterday (Thursday, March 20) that it had not received any planning applications from companies wishing to start fracking for gas.

Gas drilling company Dart Energy, which has a licence to explore for shale gas in a large area covering 15,000 sq km across the North of England, said in January that it could begin fracking in North Yorkshire in the next two years.

Earlier this year, David Cameron backed fracking and predicted shale gas extraction could support 74,000 British jobs, attract £3bn of investment and reduce energy bills.

The Prime Minister added local authorities in England would receive 100 per cent of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes.

Councillor Gareth Dadd, the council’s executive member for highways and planning, said the authority was awaiting national guidance over fracking.

He said: “Holding a position against fracking would be futile without giving due consideration to proposals.

“Perhaps Friends of The Earth should save their energy to petition in the coming years for more energy supplies when people are sitting in the dark in cold baths.”