City of York Council

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FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project
July 2016 peaceful demonstration against fracking in York

The City of York Council is the local authority for York and North Yorkshire.

The region is covered in Petroleum Exploration and Development License (PEDL) blocks awarded by the government in 2014 and 2015.

Controversial fracking firms Third Energy and Cuadrilla, as well as petrochemical giant INEOS hope to exploit the county’s shale gas reserves. Their plans have sparked strong opposition from local people, NGOs, parish councils, town councils and district councils in recent years. Dozens of peaceful protests have taken place across the county, including a huge anti-fracking rally in York in July 2016, which attracted thousands of peaceful protesters.

North Yorkshire County Council had also received over 4000 letters objecting to Third Energy’s application to begin fracking in Kirby Misperton. In November 2016 Ryedale residents and Friends of the Earth jointly contested the company's plans at a judicial review in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. [1]

Linking 'anti-fracking' protestors with extremism

The City of York 'Prevent Story board' cover.
The City of York 'Prevent Story board' introduction.

In November 2016 Spinwatch revealed that the City of York council had been working with the North Yorkshire Police Force on a Prevent strategy that described ‘anti-fracking’ activism as a terrorism risk in North Yorkshire.

The council's ‘Prevent Story Board' published on its website placed ‘anti-fracking’ alongside ‘extreme right wing activity’, together with groups linked to the ongoing war in Syria, anti-Israel/pro Palestinian activities, hunt saboteurs and animal rights activists. [1]

The story board included a section titled ‘local picture of need’ and the following statement:

'The Counter Terrorism local profile for York and North Yorkshire highlights the key risks to York as evidence of activity relating to Syria, presence of the Kurdistan Worker’s party (PKK), anti-fracking and extreme right wing activity.' (City of York council; December 2015)

The inclusion of fracking campaigners on the ‘Prevent’ list is likely to be highly controversial within the council, which passed a motion to oppose fracking in late October 2014. The council voted overwhelmingly (23 for, 11 against) to pass an ‘anti-fracking’ motion which recognises the serious risks fracking poses to climate change. [1]

Responses from the Council to the Investigation

The Prevent story was taken down from the City of York council website four days after Spinwatch revealed its existence, but can be downloaded here.

To the outrage of anti-fracking protestors, Jane Mowat, head of Community Safety at City of York Council, responded:

'As part of the wider Prevent agenda, all local authorities are required to identify any area of activity or campaigning where extreme actions may be identified as a risk to the wider community or may pose a threat to individuals or organisations covering a wide range of interests. Most organised protest groups - including the majority of anti-fracking campaigners - have been peaceful in their right to protest, however, since 2010, local authorities monitor any activities where there is potential for community tension.' [2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Russell Scott, More police forces and councils labelling peaceful anti-fracking protestors as 'extremists' alongside ISIS and far right, Spinwatch, 02 December 2016. Accessed 6 December 2016.
  2. City of York Council's anti-fracking terrorism links 'ludicrous', BBC News, December 05 2016. Accessed 12 December 2016.