ANALYSIS of dozens of proposed fracking sites in North Yorkshire and Teesside has revealed more than 700,000 people live within a "10km potential zone of impact".

Maps of habitat assessments of dozens of licence applications - which are likely to be granted later this year - detail how hundreds of towns and villages between Blackhall Colliery, near Peterlee, to York, could be affected by the controversial gas production method.

While campaigners claim residents in the impact zones are likely to be see increased traffic, noise and air pollution, Energy Minister Lord Bourne has stated the applications do not need further environmental assessment.

He said he was confident in the onshore oil and gas industry's ability to safely develop shale gas production sites, and in the process build a more resilient economy, create jobs and deliver secure energy supplies.

The government-commissioned environmental surveys for oil and gas licences report states 11 of the proposed sites in the region should need no restrictions on energy firms' activities.

The reports, which were published last week as part of a public consultation due to end on September 29, show how sensitive areas such as the Teesmouth and Cleveland coast and the North York Moors National Park could be affected unless fracking is banned on or near to the surface.

Places within 10km zones of impact include Middlesbrough, Yarm, much of Ryedale, and the east coast from Scarborough to Whitby and from Saltburn to north of Hartlepool.

Some towns and villages are within a number of fracking zones of impact, such as Sheriff Hutton, in Ryedale, which is at the centre of one licence application as well as featuring in five other zones of impact.

The report states unless conditions to limit fracking activities are imposed, an array of wildlife such as otters, great comorants and euarsian teals could be affected.

Campaign group Frack Free Ryedale said the licence awards clashed with many Sites of Special Scientific Interest, nature reserves and National Trust sites and key tourism locations, such as York, Thirsk and Scarborough.

The group's spokesman Chris Redston said: "There is hardly a house, business or farm in Ryedale that isn't in a licence block or the ominously named zone of impact."

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, who is set to visit the US to investigate the effects of fracking, said he was comfortable with the proposed licence areas, but would continue pressing ministers to ensure there were buffer zones between fracking sites.

He said: "We should not jeopardise what we already have in the area for a new economy."

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