A PUBLIC consultation over whether or not to give environmental consent to an energy production firm to launch a fracking operation has been extended.

The consultation over Third Energy's plan to hydraulically fracture underground at Kirby Misperton, near Pickering, has been extended until February 12.

The exercise was launched by the Environment Agency on December 2 to allow local residents and interested groups to submit fresh relevant information on the draft permits for shale gas exploration and production.

Agency officials, who have said they are minded to issue the permits, said the consultation had been extended to allow people more time to examine the controversial proposals and submit their comments.

The permits will enshrine conditions needed to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and to ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of wastes.