On October 9, 2015 the Ryedale District Council (RDC) voted in favor of a five year moratorium on fracking. Currently, the gas appraisal and development company Third Energy has an application pending to frack an existing well in the area to see if further development would be commercially viable.

Ryedale is the largest district in North Yorkshire England covering 582 square miles where conventional gas has been produced for over 20 years. Ryedale sits upon a large area of the Bowland shale, which is estimated by the British Geological Survey to contain as much as 2,281 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. According to a 3D seismic survey, the gas reserves trapped in the Bowland shale can only be exploited by fracking.

While the RDC’s vote for a moratorium would appear to halt exploration, Ryedale is under the control of the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). North Yorkshire operates a cabinet style council where seven district councils elect a leader who is charged with appointing nine more councilors to form an executive cabinet. This cabinet is tasked with making decisions on behalf of the county, which includes approving applications for oil and gas exploration. So while the RDC’s vote may put pressure on the NYCC to recognize the moratorium and reject Third Energy’s application, the NYCC will ultimately make the ruling.

Nonetheless, the attempt by the RDC to formally oppose fracking in a council policy is particularly important because Ryedale is the focus of the first attempt to frack in Yorkshire.