THERESA May is a keen walker. Walkers, keen or lukewarm, tend to be drawn to attractive countryside. The Ryedale district, stretching between York and Scarborough and embracing a good third of the North York Moors, consists of little else.

So you would expect Mrs May, if not quite helping to man the barricades against the imminent advent of fracking in one particular part of the area, Kirby Misperton, would at least have sympathy with the many Ryedale residents who fear that this is but the start of the much wider sacrifice of their unspoilt area to this controversial technique.

Maybe in private Mrs May does share their concern. My bet is she does. But in public, asked specifically about the impact of fracking in Ryedale, she merely spouted, almost as if by rote, what is obviously the Government’s agreed fracking line. Thus she began: “Shale gas extraction is important because of the effect it can have on our future energy security, which is of importance for us as a country.” She then spoke of the “very good regulatory regime that has been put in place." Asked about Government figures suggesting that fracking would reduce property prices by 15 per cent she highlighted a £1bn ‘wealth fund’. In Mrs May’s eyes this would enable communities and individuals “to benefit more from when fracking takes place in their areas".

Of course the reality is that the money is compensation for blighting the area. Fracking requires well heads at frequent intervals, with lorry movements to bring in materials and remove waste. Fracked Ryedale will not be the inviting, escapist place it is now. The degradation it faces parallels what happened in the 19th Century to east Durham and east Cleveland, both hitherto attractive areas, irretrievably wrecked by mining.

At present it would be no surprise to read that Mrs May had been spotted in, say, Helmsley, a popular Ryedale town, enjoying a weekend’s walking. Come fracking she is more likely to be found in the Cotswolds. It’s hard to believe Mrs May does not recognise this. But, taking at face value what she says, we can be confident that, even if a fracking site springs up opposite her home, she will see it as a “benefit". As she taps the ‘wealth fund’ for a shielding leylandii hedge, a play area for the local kids might also be provided up the road.

AN example of journalistic balance now. For Mrs May can be applauded – genuinely - for entering into the spirit of celebrations marking thirty years of pocket cartoons for The Daily Telegraph by the peerless Matt. Observing that “it is always good for politicians to laugh at ourselves”, Mrs May revealed that her favourite Matt cartoon, framed on her desk in No 10, shows an EU official assuring her on the phone: “Yes, Mrs May, we’ve received your letter” – as he adds to origami creations littering his desk.

David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major all warmly swelled the praise for Matt, some selecting a cartoon against themselves. An invitation to Jeremy Corbyn was declined, his office sourly replying that none of the cartoons they had seen featuring Mr Corbyn seemed funny. You might think that speaks volumes about Mr Corbyn.