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 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”.
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.
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