MORE fracking exploratory licences have been given out for Yorkshire, including land under York Minster.

The Government has announced its 14th round of licenses for fracking exploration including land under the cathedral and the north and east of the city, and parts of the Howardian Hills and the North York Moors.

Both York Central's Labour MP Rachael Maskell and the city council's environment boss Cllr Andrew Waller have already spoken out against the licences, with Cllr Waller accusing the Government of "rushing them through" with minimal public consultation.

He added: "With national parks now being fair game, what protection is there for our heritage buildings?"

Ms Maskell said she had already spoken to the Oil and Gas Authority and the company given the licence to tell them that fracking exploration would not be welcome in her constituency.

She added: "I will do everything to ensure that it is the people who decide whether or not there is fracking in York. Hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gases from the between the rock seams does carry risks and it is vital that local people are equipped with the facts and are all given a voice. If people across York say ‘no’ then I will do absolutely everything to ensure that their will is upheld."

Other licenses offered this week take in part of the Wolds and the East Riding, and stretch south to Goole and east to the coast.

York councillors, including Labour deputy group leader Stuart Barnes, have been sent letters about fracking from Francis Egan, the chief executive officer of Cuadrilla Resources, saying it takes its responsibilities with regards to safety, environmental protection and working with local communities very seriously.

He said Cuadrilla's first priority would be to talk with the local communities and their elected representatives, and would therefore welcome the opportunity to meet with councillors and discuss the plans in more detail.

"We recognise that some members of the public will have concerns and we have a responsibility to communicate with the local community regularly and transparently about any proposed work and future operations and to reassure them that onshore exploration and fracking can and will be done safely, securely and in an environmentally responsible way."

Cllr Barnes said it was imperative for the council's leadership to develop a position on the fracking issues but it should first speak to the people of York, independent of any consultation carried out by Cuadrilla, so it could understand their views before taking a stance.