National Trust stands firm against INEOS seismic survey


Clumber Park. Photo: (c) Copyright Carl Hinde. Licensed for re-use: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

The National Trust is continuing to refuse access for seismic surveying at historic Clumber Park  in Nottinghamshire, despite threats of legal action.

The Trust has said it is opposed to fracking and won’t allow surveying for fracking purposes.

INEOS Shale wants to carry out seismic surveying in the exploration licence area which covers the 3,800 acres of Clumber Park.

Its Operations Director, Tom Pickering, has said if INEOS cannot get access by negotiation it will use the courts.

But the National Trust is standing firm. A spokesperson said this afternoon:

“We have been contacted by INEOS Shale with regards to carrying out investigative surveys relating to gas and shale extraction on National Trust land at Clumber Park.

“The Trust is opposed to fracking on its land and will reject any fracking requests or inquiries. Consistent with this, we will always say no to surveying on our land for fracking purposes.”


Clumber Park has the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. Photo: (c) Copyright Duncan Grey and licensed for reuse under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sal/2.0

Another large landowner in the East Midlands has submitted to INEOS following threats of legal action.

The Chatsworth estate has allowed the company access to its land between Chesterfield and Worksop. The estate’s marketing manager, Jonathan Fish, said in an email:

“INEOS informed us that where they do not achieve access to and via negotiation, they would pursue the provisions available to them under the Mines (Working Facilities & Support) Act 1966, in order to gain access for the purpose of the survey. We have therefore agreed to the survey”.

Court action

Seismic surveys are usually classed as “permitted development” which means they don’t normally need planning permission.

But oil and gas companies do need the consent of the owner. Where access is refused, companies can use the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1996.

This allows them to apply for an “ancillary right” of access. The first step is to write to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to get ministerial approval to go to court.

If the minister considers the operator cannot progress any further by negotiation and there is a suitable case for access, he or she will refer the case to court.

The court must be satisfied that the application is “expedient in the national interest”. It must also consider the impact of seismic surveying on local amenities. It will determine whether access should be granted and the basis of any compensation for the landowner.

The process can take up to two years.

INEOS response

A spokesperson for INEOS said today:

“We remain hopeful of agreeing access to conduct seismic data acquisition surveys on land owned or managed by the National Trust within our licence areas.

“While the National Trust may have a “presumption against fracking” a seismic survey provides more geological information than for that purpose alone. An extensive regional survey would be of great interest to scientists now and in the future as the data would become part of the geological database of the UK and including Clumber Park would be helpful to that national interest.

“We are currently receiving signed licence agreements daily and all being well expect to start survey work in the East Midlands region in the first half of 2017.

“Except in exceptional circumstances we do not anticipate applying under the Act.  Large tracts of land such as Clumber Park can be dealt with separately to the rest of the survey and any action we decide to take under the Act will not hold up the main survey.”

14 replies »

  1. I congratulate the National Trust for standing firm, I look forward to reading the actual piece of legislation concerned , but dating from 1966 I wonder if it is fit for purpose for the scale of the unconventional gas industry. And I cannot help but feel that threatening legal action and, as shown through FOI requests, incorrectly inferring the BGS was involved, Ineos do not cover themselves in glory. It comes across as rather heavy handed/bullying attitude.
    And I the argument of being in the public is interesting, given climate change and also the fact that Ineos presumably want the gas for Ineos, a private company.

    • Aurora went to the Secretary of State for access in PEDL 164 when landowners were reluctant. Leadsom gave them permission to take 3 out of 4 to the High Court, but their lawyers advised that access would be granted so they agreed, and negotiated best terms….. However there was one where Leadsom said the case was not proven. I’m a member of the National Trust and I’m proud of them for standing up to these bullies!

  2. I agree with KatT, INEOS are attempting to use bullying tactics against the National Trust. They are also misleading people by inferring the BGS are involved. How can they claim this is in the public interest when hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas will ultimately benefit their shareholders but not the public at large who will have to live with the consequences of the increase in the use of fossil fuels on climate change.

  3. Reading the above article it would appear to clear that the NT will lose in Court if INEOS decides the coverage is required to move forward. So perhaps this explains the increases in membership fees every year? Legal fees. I am also a member of the NT and have no problem with vibroseis being conducted on NT land.

  4. This is simply NT trying to get a bit of publicity in the hope their membership will increase. Going by the pitiful financial support for Geza Tarjanyi (Mr Frackman) I reckon their overpriced membership packages are out of reach for the majority.
    40k letters of objection being received they can’t even reach a target of £1 each!….. Actions speak louder than words…….Put your money where your mouth is etc etc.

  5. National Trust membership is a bargain, without them and other similar organisations we would have nothing left but housing estates where country estates are.

  6. Quite predictable that hypocrisy comes out in support of moral superiority, again!

    Ineos are using “bullying” tactics but “Protectors” (who the police are investigating for reported use of intimidation) are not! On top of which, if you don’t agree with someone’s comments the editing should be tightened or they should be excluded altogether

    I suggest if you want that sort of discussion, a mirror is a lot cheaper than a lap top..

  7. Why don’t we go down to Clumber Park and do a “Lock On Protest” at the front gates in protest at the despicable behaviour of the National Trust and to support INEOS? Take a few “roll ups” and smoke ourselves to death like the locked on protestor this morning at the Cuadrilla site……. wait – surely some mistake – I thought Cuadrilla were going to poison people, not cigarettes???

  8. The National Trust will be looking at evidence to support their stance. They will have looked at the events from the only fracked shale gas well in the UK which is Preese Hall 1.

    Considering that was a relatively small operation compared to what the industry proposes it clear from the report that there are numerous technical problems which could lead to serious environmental damage.

    Click to access 5075-preese-hall-shale-gas-fracturing-review.pdf

    The British Geological Survey make it very clear in the report that what went wrong could easily go wrong again.

    The Trust will also have looked at the evidence from America and made an informed decision.

    They have said no. Ineos should respect their decision.

    • John – you seem to be confusing seismic with fracking? One is an inert accoustic survey, the other which you refer to above is a physical fracturing of rock several thousand feet below the surface. Quite a big difference. One question, how many times have you posted the Preese Hall link? Surely you can do better than that.

  9. John, once again you find facts confusing. The request to the Nat.Trust is for a SEISMIC survey. So, what exactly are they saying no to?? Certainly NOT what you are suggesting.

    IF, following a seismic survey Ineos decided they were desperate to frack, then all the rest of the applications would have to follow and they would have a much better chance to block it then. In fact, an extensive seismic survey of the area could possibly show there were alternative locations more suitable, which would be an ace in their pack. Taking the approach they seem to be doing is grandstanding, and could easily result in the waste of contributions to their operation. I think organisations like the RSPCA have soon found the public do not favour their donations being wasted supporting the mind set of a few at the top, instead of being used for the purpose the public feel the organisation represents.

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