FASHION designer Dame Vivienne Westwood sent a message of support to the hundreds of protesters.

She was expected to attend the protest outside County Hall in Northallerton but was unable to travel because of ill health.

But the designer told the demonstrators they are winning "one of the most important fights in the UK today" in a message read out to the crowd during a break in the meeting.

Donna Hume, a Friends of the Earth campaigner, read the speech from Dame Vivienne, in which she said: "I wish I was with you in Northallerton today but I'm ill in bed. I caught a virus and I'm not up to travelling.

"Although I can't be there with you, I am sending my support to all of you in Northallerton. We are fighting one of the most important fights in the UK today - the fight to keep the country frack-free. We are taking on a rich and powerful industry, supported by the Government, and we are winning."

She urged councillors to reject the application by UK firm Third Energy.

"They must listen to local people who don't want fracking. They must listen to the parish councils who don't want fracking. They must listen to the district council who don't want fracking.

"They all know that fracking is a dirty, polluting industry that isn't needed or wanted in North Yorkshire or anywhere."

The fashion designer spoke of other celebrities who have voiced their concerns about fracking, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Colin Firth, and said the fight against fracking had brought people together across the country.