AN energy firm granted permission to frack near the most popular paid-for tourist attraction in Yorkshire and the North-East has poured cold water on a study which found support for the gas extraction process has fallen to an all-time low.

Third Energy said it remained confident the public perception of fracking would change after projects, such as its scheme yards from Flamingo Land, at Kirby Misperton, near Pickering, had been shown to have marginal effects on the surrounding areas and residents.

The firm issued the statement after a University of Nottingham study found public support across the country for the extraction and use of shale gas has fallen from over 58 per cent in July 2013 to just over 37 per cent this month.

Academics said for the first time since 2012 overall support for fracking was negative, a week after the controversial process was given Government approval in Lancashire and four months after North Yorkshire County Council passed Third Energy’s plans at Kirby Misperton.

They concluded opposition to hydraulic fracturing, which involves drilling into the earth and directing a high-pressure water mixture at rock to release gas, had risen to 41 per cent from 18.8 per cent in 2013.

The results also showed the public becoming less concerned about the potential negative impacts of fracking, such as water contamination, and more convinced shale gas would provide cheaper and cleaner energy.

Professor Sarah O’Hara said the sharp downturn in support for the extraction and use of shale gas in the UK over the last year was “hugely significant”.

A Third Energy spokesman said: “We have long believed that once people see how little impact shale gas exploration has on the environment and communities then attitudes will swing strongly in favour.”

Simon Bowens, of Friends of the Earth Yorkshire and North-East, said it was no surprise opposition to fracking has grown as more people had become aware of the risks for their health, the local environment and on the global climate.

He said: “The UK Government is becoming increasingly isolated in their support for the industry and their attempts to impose it on local communities who have firmly said no to fracking.”