CAMPAIGNERS battling a decision to allow Britain’s first fracking operation since the Government lifted a ban on the process, have been granted a judicial hearing.

Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale said they had been notified that a ‘rolled up hearing’ on the case - for a judicial review over North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to grant Third Energy permission to frack in Kirby Misperton, near Pickering - would be heard before the end of October.

It is believed the judge presiding over the hearing will decide whether to grant permission for the case to be heard by the High Court at the same time as the claim is determined, including a decision on the impacts of fracking on climate change at the site.

Councillors on the authority’s planning committee voted seven to four in May to give the green light to the first fracking operation in the UK for five years.

The controversial decision was condemned as a travesty by those opposed to the move, but a “victory for pragmatism” by those in favour.

David Davis, of Frack Free Ryedale, said the announcement took campaigners a step further towards the opportunity to challenge the the council’s planning decision.

Mr Davis said: “Feelings against fracking and the county council’s decision are still running high in Ryedale and North Yorkshire and we continue to campaign against this hugely invasive industry that, should it go ahead, would bring about the industrialisation of our county and risk the health and well-being of local people.”

Friends of the Earth has said the legal action would see it argue the decision was unlawful because the councillors did not properly assess climate change as they did not consider the environmental impact of burning gas extracted to create electricity at a nearby power station.

It said it would also argue that the council failed to secure long-term financial protection against environmental damage.

Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire campaigner, said: “The decision by seven North Yorkshire county councillors to allow fracking in Kirby Misperton was against the wishes of the local community, the district council and hundreds of local businesses who have clearly stated they don’t want fracking.

A county council spokesman said: “The council has been notified of the judge’s decision and is preparing for the hearing.’’