A GROUP of women calling themselves “Bat Girls” locked their arms into concrete and metal barrels in front of a proposed fracking site in the region.

The four women arrived at the Third Energy site on Habton Road outside Kirby Misperton at 6am today with ‘Lock On’ devices and signs stating “#Don’tFrackOurBats” before lying down in front of the gates to the well.

They were calling on the energy company to halt its operations, claiming they will endanger protected bat species.

Police brought in special industrial cutting gear to remove the concrete and metal devices and spent several hours removing the equipment.

It is understood the four Bat Girls and two other demonstrators were arrested.

One of the protesters, Leigh Coghill, said police started cutting through the first device at 11am and three hours later they were still working to release the protestors.

Speaking this afternoon, a spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “Police liaison officers are at the scene to ensure they are safe and well. 

"Officers have spoken to the people involved and they stated they would be lying in the road for 24 hours, or ‘as long as it takes’.”

In November last year, Friends of the Earth, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Frack Free Ryedale claimed a survey showed hundreds of bats passed the perimeter of Third Energy’s site at Kirby Misperton.

North Yorkshire County Council said it had properly assessed the ecological impact of hydraulic fracturing in the area before granting permission and its report concluded the area was of low value to foraging and commuting bats.

Third Energy produced a Wildlife Protection Method Statement, which showed a number of species of bat pass the site perimeter each night, but the level of bat activity was classed as relatively low.

The four Bat Girls included a grandmother from the nearby village of Little Baugh.

Another of the women, who gave her name as Bex, said: “We have taken this action because bats are a protected species under UK law and we feel that the planning process has not been followed.”

Superintendent Alisdair Dey said: “Our core tactic is to engage with people on all sides of the issue, and ask them to work with us to make this a safe and peaceful protest.

“However, once the balance has tipped from peaceful protest to deliberate acts that are unlawful and cause unreasonable disruption to others, including companies going about their lawful business, then we need to take action.”