A FRACKING company wants to start test drilling on the edge of York - and has met city council chiefs to discuss its plans.

INEOS holds PEDL (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence) exploration rights for large parts of York, and company bosses have told a senior councillor and council officer that they want to use seismic images and drill wells to check its geology.

In January the company’s director Tom Pickering wrote to city councillor Andrew Waller, saying the company was unlikely to survey PEDL 282 - which covers the city centre including the Minster and a lot of the north and west of the city.

However he said it is looking at PEDL 283 - which covers the north of Strensall and much of the Howardian Hills - and could be applying for permission to start surveys in August this year.

He said it had started “tentative enquiries” with landowners in its Yorkshire licence areas, but that without an idea of what land access it will have the company cannot finalise its plans or talk to the authorities about the permissions it needs.

Cllr Waller said he met the company in February, alongside council planning director Mike Slater, to ask questions on behalf of York residents.

He said: “There is now greater awareness of the options for fracking in Yorkshire following applications in other parts of the country and with the work by a different company at Kirby Misperton.

“It is important for the public to be able to find out more about these issues as there could be major changes in the area if this activity takes place and I appreciate that many residents have concerns about the environmental impacts.”

There are ongoing hearings about the “Minerals and Waste Plan”, which will set down policies for fracking in York and North Yorkshire, he added, and the government inspector in charge has asked for more evidence about the 500m buffer zone that authorities in the areas want to impose.

A spokesman for INEOS said it was in the surveying stages of work towards what it calls a “flourishing shale industry” in the UK, but it is at an early stage of talks with landowners in Yorkshire.

The spokesman added: “Shale, if successful, can bring competitively-priced energy, investment and manufacturing jobs to the north of England, a region that has seen precious little of all three recently.”

Leigh Coghill, a campaigner with Frack Free York, said INEOS was “circling” over the York sites, and had already approached landowners for access.

But after a win for the anti-fracking campaign at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale she said the people of York need to be ready to fight plans closer to home.