THE Government has been urged to separate fracking sites with six-mile buffer zones to stop rural areas becoming too industrialised.

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake has told a Houses of Parliament debate that shale gas firm Third Energy had revealed plans to drill up to 950 wells in less than a third of his constituency and he was concerned that the area's main asset - its beautiful countryside - could be ruined.

He warned unless local planning authorities were forced to set minimum distances between fracking sites - which the firm told a select committee last year it had plans for 19 in the area - North Yorkshire could look like regions of the US despoiled by wells.

The call to create the buffer zones comes as the firm is set to resubmit an application to frack at Kirby Misperton, near Pickering, which could see the first new site for the controversial process in the UK since minor earthquakes led to a Government moratorium in 2011.

Conservative Mr Hollinrake said he had recently attended a meeting in the village where 44 of the 50 people attending were against fracking, while the other six had an open mind on the issue.

He added the energy firm had reacted positively to the suggestion of buffer zones.

Mr Hollinrake said: "These people are not professional campaigners: they are decent local people, desperately worried that fracking will change their lives forever, and not for better.

"The economy is important, but no economic benefit, vested interest or party political pressure could ever lead me to support something that I believed would have a detrimental effect on our countryside or the health of local residents.

"We do not want the images of a fracked industrial landscape from North Dakota to become a reality here."

Energy and climate change minister Andrea Leadsom suggested she did not believe mandatory buffer zones were necessary as fracking applications already had to undergo an independent environmental impact assessment.

She said: "We have been successfully regulating the gas and oil industry in the UK for over 50 years.

"We believe that every community hosting shale should share in the benefits, so we have committed to setting up a sovereign wealth fund to ensure that revenues are shared fairly.

"Wider communities will also benefit, as local councils will retain 100 per cent of the business rates that they collect from productive shale gas developments.