PROTESTERS who spent Christmas camped near a well site due to be used for fracking, say they will continue their campaign until plans for shale gas extraction are dropped.

The campaigners at the anti-fracking site near Kirby Misperton, established their camp on private land just before Christmas, after the High Court rejected a legal move to stop plans for hydraulic fracturing at Third Energy’s existing well site.

A handful of campers braved Christmas Day outside and the sub-zero temperatures which have followed, but say hundreds of people have come to show their support over the last week from the local area and across the country.

On Christmas Day local residents delivered a roast turkey lunch with all the trimmings to the camp, which was served in one of two communal tents set up in the camp.

Sue Gough, who lives less than a mile from the site, organised the meal with other members of the local community.

"This is a simple way for us to express our gratitude to the protectors and our support for the fantastic job they are doing to defend our community,” she said.

“They are out in the cold and wet weather so we decided to make sure they had Christmas too."

Ryedale resident Eddie Thornton is living at the camp and was there to receive the festive meal. He said they had been keeping warm by wrapping up and sitting by the camp fire and people had been donating hot water bottles. He said they had been made to feel supported locally and hoped to see more people join the protest.

He said: “The kindness of our neighbours is especially heart-warming at Christmas and makes us feel very supported.

“We’re already feeling very welcome here. The majority of cars going in and out of Kirby Misperton are tooting their horns in solidarity with the protectors. It’s clear fracking has no social licence in the area.

“Since the camp was established we’ve had a steady stream of local people bringing supplies. All our building materials have been donated, and we’re getting hot food deliveries every day. There’s more chocolate under our Christmas tree than we could ever eat, and someone even came with a kitchen sink.”

Protesters say they want to turn the camp into the national focus for anti-fracking campaigning in the UK.

One camper, Louise Hammond, from Lincolnshire, said: "This field we've taken will be full before long and it's absolutely massive.

"This is the focus now, nationally. If we can't do anything here then that's it. It's a line in the sand."

Mrs Hammond said the camp was about two miles from the well but she said it was located next to a main road the trucks would need to use to access the well site when the operation begins.

She said the plan was to use direct action to block the lorries.

The protesters entered the site without the permission of the landowner and they have spent the week putting in various facilities.

The plan by the firm Third Energy to frack for shale gas using an existing two-mile deep well in Kirby Misperton was approved in May by North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee.

In a statement, Third Energy said: "Third Energy has become aware that a small group of protestors has set up a camp on the Kirby Misperton Road close to the junction with the A169, objecting to the company's plans for a test frack of its existing well at the KMA site in Kirby Misperton. These plans have been approved by North Yorkshire County Council, after extensive consultation and deliberation, and the council's decision was upheld in the High Court.

"Third Energy respects people's right to lawful and peaceful protest. We trust that those who object to our plans will also respect our rights, and the rights of Ryedale residents, to go about our business lawfully and peacefully.

"Third Energy has been producing gas and energy in Ryedale in a safe, discreet and environmentally sensitive way for more than two decades, and the first well was drilled at the KMA site in 1985. We work closely with local residents, local businesses, local councils and the regulators. We look forward to being able to develop our operations in the future in the same safe, discreet and environmentally sensitive way."

After the camp was established, North Yorkshire Police said it would be using a "neighbourhood policing approach" in relation to the camp.