AN MP whose constituency features large areas lined up for fracking operations has concluded the controversial gas production method would have a small long-term impact on residents, traders and the environment if properly regulated.

During a fact-finding trip to Pennsylvania in the US, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said he was convinced stringent regulations that were properly supervised would prevent issues such as water contamination.

The Conservative MP, who ran a £40m turnover estate agency chain before being elected in May, said he had seen fracking first-hand on the self-funded trip and heard views of residents in an area where more than 8,000 gallons of drilling fluids were leaked into a river in 2009.

He also held talks with fracking industry leaders, regulators, a firm which supplies barrier mats to stop surface spills and academics study the health and social impact of fracking.

It has been reported that from 2008 to 2011, more than 1.3 billion gallons of waste water was produced by Pennsylvania wells and sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials.

Studies by US universities published this year have found those living near fracking operations had a higher likelihood of going to the hospital and an increase of underweight babies born to women living near fracking sites.

Mr Hollinrake said he had been reassured by better working practices and regulations introduced since fracking operations started there a decade ago.

He said: "We came out here because we really wanted to see the reality.

"There's no question that for a while there is an impact.

"This is a heavily industrial process, but that seems to only last for six to nine months then the impact is quite low."

"The regulations I have seen here, the improvements they have made, do more or less parallel those in the UK.

"The key is the supervision of those regulations. Good regulations and have we got enough regulators?"

Simon Bowens, of Friends of the Earth, said Mr Hollinrake's call for tight regulations was perverse as the Conservative Government was weakening the regulatory system.

A Frack Free Ryedale spokesman said while the impact of a single well might last six to nine months, this did not take into account wells' short life, which meant more wells needed to be drilled to maintain production.

"It would be helpful if the widespread water contamination occurring in Pennsylvania was acknowledged by Mr Hollinrake.

"During his visit, it was revealed that two public drinking water systems and at least six private water supplies in Potter County, Pennsylvania, had been contaminated by fracking company JKLM Energy."