ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have hit out against Conservative manifesto pledges which they say will pave the way for “fast-track fracking”.

The party plans to let companies carry out test drills without planning permission - instead considering them “permitted developments”.

Friends of the Earth campaigners say that means many places including York could see drilling begin without any planning permission.

The manifesto also promises to change the law so that full-scale fracking applications could be taken away from local councils and dealt with by central government's Planning Inspectorate.

Julian Sturdy, the Conservative candidate fighting for re-election in York Outer, said: “This proposal does not make it easier to carry out fracking, and covers test drills only. 

"I have always been a constituency-first MP and that will not change if I am re-elected in June.

"Any proposals for fracking operations require full planning permission from the local authority, and I am very clear that City of York Council should reject any fracking applications that do not have support from local residents."