FRACKING at Kirby Misperton is likely to be delayed following a Government announcement that it is closing a legal loophole.

The final decision on Third Energy’s plans to frack at Kirby Misperton was due to be made imminently by Secretary of State Greg Clarke, but his department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been forced to admit to a delay because of a loophole in the Infrastructure Act.

The loophole closure was announced via a written ministerial statement issued on Thursday by Energy Minister Richard Harrington who said: “Hydraulic Fracturing Consent was introduced in the Infrastructure Act 2015 as an additional step to the existing regulatory and permitting regime.

“However, it does not apply to wells drilled before the 2015 Act came to force and these are not captured by the requirement to seek a Hydraulic Fracturing Consent.

“Today’s Direction closes this loophole and ensures that the same approach for consent is taken for all relevant hydraulic fracturing operations, including where the associated well was drilled prior to the 2015 Act coming into force.”

This means that Third Energy, the company behind the Kirby Misperton operation, will have their application examined by officials because the well was drilled in 2013.

It is likely that this parliamentary process will take some weeks to complete.

Campaigners have welcomed the move and Ryedale District Councillor, Di Keal, said:“In this few weeks respite I would urge more people to write to Greg Clarke MP and ask him not to give the final go ahead for fracking in Ryedale.”

The government announcement comes in a week that York and North Yorkshire councils submitted their draft Minerals and Waste Joint Plan to the Planning Inspectorate.

It includes robust protection measures for residents and the environment to guide future minerals and waste planning applications for developments such as fracking, quarries and recycling and treatment centres.