Fracking ‘sticks in your mind because it is such a horrible word’: Malton has mixed feelings about its new prospects

 

On the British Geological Survey map published today, Malton in North Yorkshire is slap bang in the middle of a large blue shaded area.

To the expert eye of the fracker, this denotes that the historic market town and its surrounding Ryedale district are among the most interesting prospects in the race to exploit Britain’s abundant onshore gas resources – indicating the presence of both deep and shallow shale plays.

But few of those braving the summer drizzle seemed aware that Malton was sitting on top of something special.

Shaun Fox, 45, whose family has run the local butchers since the 19th century, was surprised and optimistic at the news. “If it brings jobs it would be good but I haven’t heard anything about it. I can’t think how there would be any pollution. It would be nice to get an incentive and cheaper fuel bills hopefully. I am all for it to be honest,” he said.

Malton is set among rich agricultural land and the area is particularly popular with horse breeders. But motor mechanic Steve Turner, 50, said the prospect of jobs – particularly for the unskilled – was welcome, provided the technology was safe.

“I am a cautious yes,” he said. “I hadn’t a clue about it before today – I’d never heard anything about it. If it is going to cause a risk of earthquakes I would say it should be left alone. Before they start making holes in the ground they need to make some risk assessment so that there is no damage to anyone’s property or livelihood. There are not many jobs around here, especially for manual workers,” he added.

According to the survey, the maps will “provide investors, operators and regulators with an indication of where to target future exploratory drilling”.

Shop worker Carol Gray, 49, knew this could potentially mean fracking.

“I have heard of fracking. It sticks in your mind because it is such a horrible word. I wouldn’t want it here but I would need to know more about it – everyone would. We will have to wait and see. There is no point worrying about something that might not happen,” she said.

Retired bookseller David Snaith, 68, was less convinced by the rhetoric emanating from London.

“My impression is that the Government is grasping at straws. It is like a lot of things they are doing at the moment – PR driven. They are being told to play it up and it will be jam tomorrow,” he said.

“The situation isn’t the same as it is in the United States. It is a bigger country and there is much more empty space. From what I can gather they are overstating or being over enthusiastic about the amount of gas they will actually get out of the ground,” Mr Snaith added.

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