HUNDREDS of residents have signed a petition to the Policing Minister calling for the end of anti-fracking protest camps in the Kirby Misperton area.

Thirsk MP Kevin Hollinrake recently met with Policing Minister Nick Hurd to hand over the 650-signature petition.

It has been signed by people whose lives have been disrupted by the camps around the Third Energy fracking site.

Although the larger protest camp off Kirby Misperton Road has closed, the petitioners are worried that they will return later in the year if the final go-ahead for fracking is given.

They want measures in place to prevent a repeat of the disruption that has gone on in recent months.

This has included protestors carrying out "slow walks" in front of delivery vehicles to the site, campaigners climbing on equipment and people locking themselves into devices at the entrance to the site.

The cost of policing the protest has run up to £700,000 for North Yorkshire Police.

Mr Hollinrake said: “The petitioners are concerned about the negative impact fracking protests have had in the area for which I do have some sympathy.

“It is absolutely proper that people should have the right to protest but residents should also be able to go about their daily business – go to work, take their children to school or attend doctor’s appointments without fear of intimidation.”

Mr Hollinrake also took the opportunity during his meeting with Mr Hurd to raise the issue of the cost of policing the protests.

The Kirby Misperton site was not just the focus of local campaigners but attracted protestors from around the country as the fracking debate became a national issue.

Mr Hollinrake said: “The additional funding has, so far, cost North Yorkshire Police an extra £700,000 and the Police Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, and I are seeking extra funding to help pay for this.”

Third Energy had expected to carry out test fracks at the Kirby Misperton site - known as KM8 - before last Christmas, but the process was held up as it waited for the final go-ahead from the Government.

In January, Business Secretary Greg Clark ordered an assessment of the “financial resilience” of Third Energy before deciding whether to give it the green light.

Since then, some of the equipment has been moved from the site.

Public access to a nearby footpath was also reinstated and the height of a sound barrier has been reduced to lessen the visual impact while the site is dormant.