Oliver, 8, appeals to PM to block fracking near new Derbyshire home


An eight year old boy has written to the Prime Minister asking her to prevent fracking near his new home in Derbyshire.

Oliver Greenwood told Theresa May he was scared the process to extract shale gas would make him ill and said he wanted to talk to her about it in Downing Street.

His letter was prompted by news that INEOS had begun the process of applying for permission to drill an exploration well at Marsh Lane, near Eckington, in Derbyshire.

Oliver’s mother, Wendy, exchanged contracts on a house less than 500m from the site last week but did not find out about INEOS’s plans until this Monday. She said she risks a possible legal challenge and will lose her deposit if she pulls out of the sale.

Ms Greenwood, a single parent, said:

“Oliver was very upset by the situation we found ourselves in. He is very eloquent, he loves school and he wants to help people. When he told me he wanted to write to the Prime Minister I was so proud of him.

“When I saw what he had written I was quite overwhelmed and I thought I am going to have to share it.”

This morning, she posted on Facebook a picture of Oliver’s letter, which she confirmed he had written himself. He wrote:

Dear Prime Minister

Fracking Marsh Lane

I am called Oliver and I am 8 years old. My favourite things are school, football and nature.

My mummy means the world to me and she is the most amazing mum in the whole wide world! She does everything for me on her own.

My mummy is very sad and I am sad too! My mummy is sad because they want to do fracking next to a house that we are buying. My mummy has cried every day. She is so worried that she will lose all her money. I am scared that fracking will make me ill.

I think fracking in Marsh Lane will ruin me and my mummy’s life. Please can you help us and please move fracking far away from houses.

I would like to come to your office in London to talk with you about this.

Copies of the letter have been sent to INEOS, Derbyshire County Council and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

DrillOrDrop asked INEOS to comment on the letter and the family’s situation. A spokesperson said:

“We wold like to sit down with Ms Greenwood and Oliver to talk through our plans and reassure them”.

INEOS plans

INEOS announced on 6 January that it had begun the planning application process for a site on Bramleymoor Lane between Marsh Lane and Apperknowle.

In details sent to Derbyshire County Council, the company said it wanted to drill a 2,408m vertical well to take rock samples that would be analysed for their gas producing properties. (More details)

The document referred only once to hydraulic fracturing, suggesting that the process might be carried out at other sites. A full application is expected later this year.

Wendy Greenwood said nothing had emerged about the plans in legal searches or disclosures.

The first she knew about them was seeing anti-fracking signs when she drove through the area after exchanging contracts. She said:

“I was absolutely devastated. It was supposed to be about our future.

“Fracking is one of the primary things that would have put me off the house”.


Sign in Eckington. Photo: Chloe Sandall

She said she chose the house because it offered “the peace and quiet of the countryside” and was convenient for Oliver’s school, work and family. She said:

“I have still not made up my mind but we are due to complete on Monday. There is so much that is unknown. I don’t think I can win whatever I do. I am trying to put a brave face on it but I have broken down in tears.”

Ms Greenwood said she hoped Mrs May would reply to Oliver’s letter. She said people in the parish had been very supportive.

“There is a huge sense of solidarity. I am sure they will get their voices heard.”

Since the INEOS announcement an anti-fracking campaign has established in the area.

Nearly 60,000 people have signed a petition against the plans and a petition on the government website has attracted more than 1,000 signatures.

Both INEOS and its opponents have organised meetings in the area in the next few days. More details.

Updated at 22.12 to include quote from INEOS spokesperson

47 replies »

    • Well golly, Ruth, I just wonder why little Oliver is so frightened of fracking? Could it be all the scare stories promulgated by FoE and their partners’ in crime? Hmmmmmmm…..

      Obviously, national energy security takes a back seat to sad crying faces. I think fracking should be outlawed at once based on this letter! :o)

  1. [Edited by moderator]
    Both boy and mother make good points. You’ve obviously not looked at any case studies. Has INEOS offered to guarantee their house price if they wanted to sell up and move. If Peeny was right when he says being around fracking sites can actually increase values 😂😂 then it’s win-win!

    • Good conveyancing solicitors in Lancashire are protecting themselves against possible comebacks.

      Click to access Groundsure-Energy-Apr16.pdf

      We will soon be finding out what money lenders have to say on property valuation relative to proximity to energy sources.

      I was at a meeting when Mark Miller said house prices near fracking sites would rise……….

      You could hear a pin drop.

      It is a well known fact people move into rural areas so they can listen to the 24/7 noises, the 24/7 foul smells, and 24/7 light pollution from
      fracking sites.

      Return fracking at higher levels repeating the same is another major attraction.

      [Edited by moderator]

    • In the US, only house prices near fracking sites that were in receipt of royalty payments increased slightly in value, but this did not happen in all the shale regions.
      In the UK, house prices in the earthquake zone fell rapidly following the earthquakes of 2011 in Lancashire. They did not recover their former value.

  2. Why is this lad being allowed to take on the burden of his mother’s “sadness”? He should be being protected from such worries until he’s old enough to cope.

  3. [Edited by moderator] Kids of 8 hardly have a well informed view of the world. I really do not understand why this [Edited by moderator] is getting reported as an ‘event’. It isnt.

    • Perhaps they don’t, but they often have a well informed view of their mother’s Ken.

      We do understand your own angry and emotional response here given your group’s recent self-inflicted embarrassment re the Church of England.

    • [Edited by moderator as the comment it refers to has been removed]

      Are you seriously suggesting that a child of 8 is incapable of understand the concept of a house price or the fact that his mother is clearly upset? Are you suggesting that children of 8 can’t watch and take in information on concerns about health from the mainstream media like the BBC.

      [Edited by moderator as the comment it refers to has been removed]

  4. How is it that Backing Fracking acolytes are all still blaming Friends of the Earth? Most people get their information from ordinary news sources. Why aren’t they blaming The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph or The Financial Times?

    How is it not ‘an event’ that someone who doesn’t want to live 500m from a shalegas site and did not know that this could be her family’s new reality, now wants to pull out of the purchase of a house, but can’t afford to write-off the deposit and finds herself so upset about the situation that her child notices the stress and unhappiness of his mother?

    How is it that shalegas extraction is even allowed to occur 500m from homes? What is a safe distance so that the environmental impacts (air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution) of hydrocarbon extraction don’t create health impacts for those living close to shalegas extraction developments?

  5. I think the government need to put in place an independent monitoring program that publishes data publically and if the company can’t fix the faulty problem we can sue them for every penny. I am happy to donate to the legal cost to sue them.

  6. Didn’t her solicitor do the appropriate searches before completion?
    “A Local Authority Search gives you information on a variety of issues regarding the property, ranging from planning permission issues and the proximity of rail/tube lines to road works, conservation areas and more. Your conveyancer will send enquiries to the local authority on your behalf and should also enquire about nearby buildings and empty land; you will want to know if there is major planning permission for further buildings or developments as this could greatly affect your quality of life in your new home.”

  7. Exactly Al.

    Maybe the searches were not done, and the consequences are the fault of the purchaser. Maybe they were, and any fault lies with the party who happened not to have discovered the information.

    I have a housing estate about to be built within 500m of my property. If my house was on the market, I would suspect any purchaser would be shown that within the appropriate searches, and could calculate what that meant within the financials.

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