THE firm behind the region's first fracking proposals has criticised a council for staging a vote on the scheme, which will be decided by another authority.

Third Energy appeared to question whether Ryedale District Council had performed its role appropriately, after agreeing to press North Yorkshire County Council to refuse the firm permission to hydraulically fracture for shale gas deep underground at Kirby Misperton, near Pickering.

More than 100 anti-fracking campaigners cheered as the Tory-run district authority's planning committee voted to urge their colleagues on the Conservative county council to reject Third Energy's application.

Speaking after the meeting, campaigner Sue Gough, whose home is two miles from the proposed site, said she was delighted Ryedale councillors had listened to the views of residents, who she said were overwhelmingly against fracking in the area.

She added: “A dark cloud will hang over Ryedale until the final decision is made in Northallerton, but I hope the county councillors will take a lead from Ryedale and reject the application from Third Energy."

Bosses at Third Energy responded to the vote by issuing a statement saying the firm would review the committee's proceedings "to understand on what planning grounds it has reached this conclusion".

The firm dismissed claims that fracking in Ryedale would not be safe, saying it had drilled for and produced gas, and generated electricity, in North Yorkshire for more than 20 years with "an excellent track record".

It added: "It is important to remember that Ryedale District Council is only one of many statutory consultees on this application, whose views will be taken into account by North Yorkshire County Council.

"Ryedale District Council, as a statutory consultee, is not expected to duplicate the decision-making role of North Yorkshire County Council, the competent and experienced mineral planning authority.”

Councillor Di Keal, a former parliamentary candidate and chairman of the district council, said its decision over the fracking scheme had gone before the committee, despite it having no power to approve the project, as it was a major issue in the area.

She said: "As a statutory consultee on the application, the council has every right to take a view on it.

"I think Third Energy have been taken aback by the force of the public opinion about what they plan to do."