AN ANTI-fracking group has branded extra government funding for policing of a fracking site as "tantamount to a subsidy."

North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan has won her bid to receive Home Office funding for the additional costs incurred locally for policing the protests over hydraulic fracking in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale.

Mrs Mulligan has been calling for some time for central government to support the substantial additional investment of resources.

A detailed analysis has been taking place of North Yorkshire Police’s approach, led by the Home Office and including Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, to assess the operation and its value for money.

It concluded the policing was "efficient and effective" and ministers have agreed to cover 85 per cent of the ‘additional costs’ of the operation – amounting to £614,000, the maximum amount possible under the scheme.

But protestors to the fracking said policing at the site had been at the expense of relations with the local community.

Peter Allen from Frack Free Ryedale said: "My reaction is that this government payout is tantamount to a subsidy for the fracking industry. "They are the ones who are responsible for bringing fracking to the Ryedale area in the face of huge local opposition and they are the ones who should be paying for it, not the taxpayer.

"There are a lot of people in the area who would question the conclusions of HM Inspectorate and I wonder how many of them were consulted? The policing may have passed tests of 'efficiency and effectiveness', but at the expense of police relations with the local community.

"As for the Commissioner's assertion that this was carried out fairly and in conjunction with the Human Rights Act, perhaps she should look at the disparity between the high number of arrests at Kirby Misperton compared with the low number of those who were finally found guilty of an offence."

Mrs Mulligan said: "It is right that the Government has agreed to pay these costs. The police operation had a significant and visible impact on the local community, but it has also had an impact more widely across North Yorkshire given the number of officers involved.

“The hydraulic fracturing may resume later this year and I fully expect that will bring with it the protests.

"It is a contentious issue with passionate views but the police have upheld the law fairly and in conjunction with the Human Rights Act, and I know they will do so again. Despite the overall success of the operation, there are always lessons to be learned and I am confident they have been."