COUNCILLORS from Ryedale say they have been denied entry to a conference on the economic benefits of fracking in their district and elsewhere in North Yorkshire.

The seminar in Scarborough on Monday, April 25, will feature representatives from a number of shale gas companies wanting to frack in North Yorkshire.

The event will look at the future business opportunities of North Yorkshire onshore oil and gas and will involve talks by senior executives from IGas, Egdon, Third Energy and INEOS, who have been awarded permits for potential fracking in North Yorkshire.

The event by the Onshore Energy Services Group (OESG), a trade association which exists to advance the interests of British SMEs in the fracking supply chain, was invitation-only.

It was described as a chance for people to learn the opportunities that an onshore oil and gas industry in North Yorkshire could bring and to help local businesses understand the roles that could be on offer within the supply chain.

Councillors from some councils in North Yorkshire have been invited, but parish and district councillors in Ryedale - where the most immediate potential fracking site are situated – have not.

Some of the Ryedale councillors who have been refused entry have said they will now be joining a demonstration in Scarborough which is taking place in the town ahead of the seminar on Monday morning. Also at the protest will be Frack Free Scarborough, Frack Free Ryedale and other campaigners.

The event’s timetable described how the seminar would end with a drinks reception and the chance to network in a “relaxed and informal environment”.

Malton resident Ian Conlon, from Frack Free Ryedale, said many of the Ryedale-based councillors who applied to attend the seminar were told the event was only open to larger councils with economic development remits. Ryedale District Council voted against Third Energy’s plans to allow fracking at Kirby Misperton near Pickering. The decision on granting planning permission will be considered by North Yorkshire County Council on Friday, May 20.

Mr Conlon said: “We’ve not been able to find anyone from Ryedale District Council that has received an invitation. We know a number of parish councillors have asked to go and haven’t been invited.”

Ryedale District Councillor Mike Potter, who was also not invited to the event, said: “As the district councillor for a large rural ward covered by license blocks to frack, I need hard evidence that profit from the industry for the few will not greatly outweigh the future risks to agriculture and tourism, and even more importantly, the health and wellbeing of my constituents.”

The OESG group says they explained to the parish councillor and four Ryedale District Councillors who contacted them that the event was primarily focused on the local business community and had only invited councils with a specific economic development remit.

OESG said in its written response to the councillors, the company said it was contemplating a series of small meetings with interested councils in North Yorkshire. Lee Petts, chief executive of the Onshore Energy Services Group, said: "North Yorkshire has a long history of successful onshore oil and gas production, but it's future prospects look particularly exciting and could create a host of new supply chain opportunities in the next few years.

"This half-day conference, the first of its kind in the region, will examine the future business opportunities that onshore oil and gas could one day be responsible for, bringing together operators and potential suppliers to help ensure that North Yorkshire businesses are best placed to capitalise on the chances that lie ahead."