RESIDENTS faced with living near the first fracking operation since it was banned by the Government have staged a protest outside their MP's constituency surgery over what they described as his "new-found support for the shale gas industry".

The campaigners said huge numbers of Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake's constituents opposed his decision to hold a Producers Summit with fracking firms INEOS, Cuadrilla, Third Energy and iGas on February 8 to ensure the gas extraction method would be done in a balanced and measured way in the area.

The constituency includes a site at Kirby Misperton, near Pickering, where Third Energy hope to frack for shale gas as soon as possible, and numerous other sites where it is thought hydraulic fracturing operations could be launched in the coming years.

The demonstration was limited to about 20 protestors, they said, out of respect for other constituents who were holdings talks with the Conservative MP in his surgery at The Old Courthouse, Thirsk.

As the protestors voiced their fury at "Mr Hollinrake's attempts to force fracking on his constituents", scores of passing motorists showed their support for the demonstration by sounding their horns.

Some of the protestors also highlighted their dismay at Mr Hollinrake's apparent different stance on fracking to his predecessor, Anne McIntosh, who stepped down from the seat last May, and questioned whether he was the fracking industry's "new spin doctor".

One of the campaigners, Simon Bowens, of Friends of the Earth, said: "Anne McIntosh was asking the right kind of questions of the industry and the regulators.

"The fact that he has been out to see the devastation caused by fracking in Pennsylvania and that he is working with the fracking industry flies in the face of the evidence that he has been presented with."

They said Mr Hollinrake's impartiality on the issue had been questioned when he chaired what they described as a public relations meeting on behalf of Third Energy in October, before refusing invitations to oppose the firm's plan to frack.

Mr Bowens said: "We want to try to get Mr Hollinrake to understand the strength of opinion in this constituency and that he needs to be representing the people of Ryedale and not the fracking industry in Westminster."

Mr Hollinrake said he was very happy to have a reasoned debate and supported anyone's right to peaceful protest.

He added: "However, it is unacceptable when protestors resort to misrepresentation of my comments and mischievous accusations of corruption.

"Those against fracking do not speak for the entire constituency and should respect other views."

Fracking was banned by the Government in 2011 after minor earthquakes near Blackpool were linked to test wells being drilled by Cuadrilla, before the moratorium was lifted the following year.