RESIDENTS of a moorland village are objecting to plans to carry out gas exploration near their homes.

They fear the scheme could lead to an industrial site being developed.

Sterling Resources (UK), a subsidiary of a Canadian oil exploration company, wants to drill for industrial gas at Westerdale, in the Esk Valley, near Whitby.

But a public meeting attended by about 70 people heard concerns about noise, heavy lorries and other traffic destroying the tranquillity of the village. One of the plan's opponents, Alex Peeling, believes the 48-metre high drilling rig which will be used would be the biggest of its kind in the country.

"If it turns into a production well, we could be living with it for 25 years," he said.

Other residents are worried that drilling could cause pollution in the beck in Westerdale and in the River Esk.

The company said it wanted to operate on a four-acre site at Whyett Bank Road, Westerdale, 700 metres from the village.

The National Park Authority's planning committee is expected to decide on the application next month.