PROTESTERS who have spent the festive period establishing an anti-fracking camp in North Yorkshire say they will make the site a national focus for campaigning against the controversial gas extraction technique.

The Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, which has been set up close to one of only two UK sites to be given the go-ahead to frack, was created when activists moved on to private farmland just before Christmas, after the High Court rejected a legal move to stop plans for fracking at a well south-west of the village.

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

The decision to use the site for a national campaign has drawn comparisons with Greenham Common, in Berkshire, the site of a nuclear weapons protest camp for 19 years.

One camper, Louise Hammond, from Lincolnshire, said local residents brought Christmas dinner out to them on the big day.

She 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.

Residents from the village supported by Friends of the Earth tried to block the decision in the High Court but, days before Christmas, a judge dismissed their application for judicial review.

The judge ruled that the terms and conditions afforded “a considerable degree of protection to residents” and the council’s decision was lawful.

The Kirby Misperton application was the first to be approved in the UK since 2011, when tests on the Fylde coast, in Lancashire, were found to have been the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area.

Third Energy said: “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.”