SCORES of police officers are set to be deployed to control anticipated crowds of protesters at the launch of the country's first fracking operation since the controversial gas production technique caused tremors.

North Yorkshire Police are expecting policing the anti-fracking protests to be a “large-scale operation” when Third Energy begins shale gas extraction near Pickering, but say it will not impact on their duties elsewhere in the county.

With fracking expected to begin within weeks at the KM8 well site in Kirby Misperton site, Ryedale, police and representatives from North Yorkshire County Council held a public meeting in the village on Tuesday, to explain what will happen once fracking gets underway. 

It is understood the number of officers deployed to the site could be in the region of 60 to 70 officers a day, but the force said the numbers at the site would vary according to the circumstances. 

In line with other policing of other fracking operations, it is expected the force will draft in manpower from other forces. 

A police spokesman said: “Although we will be focused on this operation, it is still ‘business as usual’ elsewhere for North Yorkshire Police, and people can be reassured that we will be attending to all of our usual duties and continuing to provide a high quality service across North Yorkshire and the City of York.”

The meeting also heard that “slow walks” involving protesters disrupting the movement of industrial traffic by walking in front of vehicles would be allowed twice a day.

Superintendent Dave Hannan told the meeting the force adopted a “safer neighbourhood-style" approach to policing, which would be applied to the protests. If criminal activity or disorder was faced during the protests, they would react to that, he said. 

The meeting also heard police would balance the needs of Third Energy to go about its lawful business while also facilitating lawful protest and as far as possible allow everyday life in Kirby Misperton to continue. 

Resident Graham Cray, who attended the meeting, said: “We heard that all sorts of legal, peaceful protest will be allowed. There will be a significant number of police on call if people do breach the law. We also heard that since protests against fracking began, there have been no arrests in North Yorkshire.”