A DEBATE on fracking between an engineer with expertise on shale gas and MP Kevin Hollinrake is taking place in North Yorkshire, overseen by the chair of the Hillsborough Inquiry.

Chartered engineer Mike Hill and Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake are to go head-to-head at the debate hosted by Kirkbymoorside Town Council.

The debate will take place at Lady Lumley’s School in Pickering on Thursday, March 8 from 7pm until 9pm and will be chaired by the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones KBE.

Bishop Jones is currently an adviser to Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Mike Hill is the UK EU Expert Member of the Technical Working Group for the Hydrocarbon-BREF under the Joint Research Council for the EU Commission.

He said: “The debate is very important, not just for Yorkshire but for the UK. The government’s position on fracking is based on fundamental misunderstanding of what unconventional fossil fuel (UFF) exploration means.

“The severe risks to the public health, the environment and local economy has not been mitigated anywhere near adequately enough.

“The wider implications for climate change are also being confused by the government. Fracking is not a bridge to a low carbon future and never was. It is a bridge to nowhere, a dead end, and is in reality a far dirtier fuel to develop, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than coal.”

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said: “I welcome the opportunity to have an open debate about shale gas exploration in the constituency and to answer questions.

“I believe that shale gas exploration is in our national interest and there are strong economic reasons for supporting it.

“However, I do so only as long as we make sure development does not pollute the environment, reduces our carbon footprint and the impact to our landscape and communities are properly managed.”

Later this month, a Government appointed planning inspector will begin to examine the North Yorkshire joint minerals and waste plan, which will set policy on fracking for the next 20 years.

The shale gas company, INEOS, is also expected to begin seismic testing for shale gas in its licence areas in North Yorkshire in 2018, which include areas of Hambleton, York, Ryedale and the Yorkshire Coast.

Kirkbymoorside Town Mayor, Angus Ashworth said: "I hope that this event will provide an opportunity for residents of Kirkbymoorside and the locality, to hear both points of view on the subject of fracking regulations.

“I have every confidence that the evening will be informative to all parties and on behalf of Kirkbymoorside Town Council I would like to thank the speakers and chairman for agreeing to participate in this debate."