Updated: National Trust defends opposition to INEOS seismic surveys as company begins legal action


Clumber Park, bought by the National Trust in 1946. Photo: (c) Copyright Carl Hinde. Licensed for re-use:

Updated 7/12/2017

The National Trust has denied it acted unreasonably in refusing to allow the shale gas company,  INEOS, to carry out geological tests on historic parkland. 

INEOS announced it was seeking a court order for the right to carry out seismic surveys at the Trust’s Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. In a statement, the company accused the National Trust of adopting an “overly and and overtly” political position on fracking.

171206 National Trust letter to Times

National Trust letter to The Times, 6 December 2017

But in a letter to The Times (6/12/2017), the National Trust said this was untrue. It said it had acted reasonably by refusing to grant access to INEOS.

The Trust said INEOS had failed to demonstrate why surveys were necessary at Clumber Park.

INEOS said it had submitted an application to the Oil and Gas Authority, which if granted would allow it to seek a court order under the Mines (Working Facilities & Support) Act 1966.

If INEOS went to court, it would have to prove that the National Trust had behaved unreasonably and that the surveys were in the national interest.

INEOS has been carrying out seismic surveying across its East Midlands exploration licences since early June.

In July, DrillOrDrop reported that INEOS had sent the National Trust a pre-action legal letter.

The company said the National Trust had refused all offers of meetings and INEOS had no option but to apply to the Oil and Gas Authority. The company said in a statement:

“INEOS believes the Trust has behaved unreasonably, it is firmly in the national interest and that a court would back its position.”

The Chief Executive Officer of INEOS Shale, Ron Coyle, said:

“The National Trust’s position is overly and overtly political and throughout this process they have refused to engage with us or the science.”

“At INEOS we are developing a shale gas industry that is safe and essential for the UK and the economy. It is estimated that the industry will create tens of thousands of well-paid jobs and INEOS has pledged to give 6% of revenue to local people – potentially amounting to billions of pounds. The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering have stated that shale gas extraction is safe if properly regulated.”


Clumber Park has the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. Photo: (c) Copyright Duncan Grey and licensed for reuse under

“National Trust acted reasonably”

Mark Harold, the Director of Land and Nature at the National Trust, said in the letter:

“INEOS’s suggestion that the National Trust has adopted an “overly and overtly political” position on fracking is untrue.

“The trust is satisfied that it is acting reasonably as a conservation charity by refusing to grant access to INEOS at Clumber Park.

“Our founding principle is to protect the beautiful places in our care. We also believe that climate change is the greatest threat facing our places, and burning fossil fuels is a major contributing factor”.

Clumber Park is a Grade I listed park, most of which is a Site of Scientific Interest. Mr Harold said it was visited by more than 500,000 people a year. He added:

“INEOS has failed to demonstrate to the trust why it is necessary to carry out any surveys here.

“We have no wish for our land to play any part in extracting gas or oil. We are already seeing the impact of climate change at many of our places and we have launched a programme to dramatically cut our own fossil fuel usage at our properties”.

INEOS survey commitments

Under the terms of its East Midlands licences, INEOS must by 2021 carry out a total of 550km of 2D surveys and 575km2 of 3D surveys. It must also drill 11 vertical wells and four horizontal wells which must be fracked.

In the licence area which includes Clumber Park (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence 308), INEOS must acquire 100km of 2D seismic survey and 100km2 of 3D seismic data, as well as drilling a 4,000m vertical well and fracking a horizontal one.

Seismic surveys investigate the geology of an area and help companies to decide the best sites for exploration wells. INEOS has agreed to share the results of its surveys with the national archives. It said:

“Hundreds of other landowners have already agreed to the surveys.”

A company spokesperson confirmed that the National Trust would not receive its share of the company’s offer to landowners of 6% of revenues from any future shale gas production. The spokesperson said:

“The 6% landowner/homeowner/Community contribution is a voluntary payment by INEOS to landowners, and if landowners do not grant access for surveys at this stage, they are effectively ruling themselves out of receiving in the success case, what would have been their share of the revenue share payment.”

INEOS is beginning to contact owners in Yorkshire for access to their land for seismic surveys.

Mines (Working Facilities & Support) Act 1966

Court action is rare under the Mines (Working Facilities & Support) Act 1966.

A Freedom of Information Act request by DrillOrDrop revealed that in the past 10 years, there has been only one application to acquire what are known as ancillary rights for seismic surveying. But this was withdrawn and the then Energy Secretary did not refer that application to the court for determination.

Updated on 4/12/2017 with statement from INEOS spokesperson on qualification for 6% of revenue and on 7/12/2017 with National Trust letter to The Times

50 replies »

  1. INEOS have finally woken up and realised you cannot have adult conversations with the lefties and wealthy individuals and organisations such as Joe Corre and NT. Legal action is the only route to take.
    Pretty clear that the left are trying to cause havoc everywhere in the UK and need to be dealt with appropriately. Even the Guardian is starting to report a militant takeover of Labour by Momentum and Unite.

    • Having an adult conversation requires having adult views and not those of a ‘spit out your dummy child’. Clearly those ‘ lefties and wealthy individuals and organisations such as Joe Corre and NT. Legal action’ aka PEOPLE are not interested in bullies and their tactics. They said NO, we say NO.

  2. I don’t know about lefties GBH – that’s just your interpretation. It’s more like corporate and financial muscles versus the future of the environment and the planet.

  3. Climate change is already claiming the lives of around 400,000 people per annum and poses the greatest single threat to humanity. The world has warmed by 1.2C since pre-industrial times but, even though we are still well below the 1.5C Paris threshold target, a series of climate feedbacks have already begun to emerge and at significant force (for example albedo in the Arctic and methane released from melting permafrost). It appears we may be on the cusp of the runaway greenhouse effect. So, the very last thing we need is any more gas. We need the full range of renewable technologies to be deployed now to meet all our needs. We will also need BECCS (Bio energy with CCS) to reduce CO2 concentrations and provide baseload electricity for those rare periods in winter when there is little sunshine and little breeze.

    • Government to release millions to develop “mini nuclear power stations”.

      What? Not more gas power stations? Not more and vital investment in renewable energy?

      Where is this governments head?

      Clearly these will not be available until some many decades into the future, what with the habit of tearing them down and rebuilding them a couple of times due to shoddy workmanship…….shoddy workmanship in a nuclear power station???

      Built of course by Chinese, French and god knows who else? No UK applicants for tenders allowed?

      Also having to pay out hundreds of millions of tax payers money for deliberately falsifying costs from contract applicants to dispose and process nuclear waste because the government had an unhealthy relationship to one contender for the contract?

      There is something very radioactively fishy about the entire UK governments deeply suspicious shenanigans with high level nuclear waste disposal?

      All this proposed I see by…….Richard Harrington…….the absent minded energy secretary in charge of the department (somewhere in Westminster, if he can find it?) who doesnt know anything about Third Energy plans to frack whilst simultaneously working on closing the legal loophole that would have meant TE would not have had to apply to the energy secretary in the first place? Selective myopia or genuine faulty memory?

      As for anyone waking up to this arrant nonsense, it is the criminally misinformed British public who now begin to see what an incompetent farce this bumbling stumbling government are showing themselves to be, and their apparent deeply incestuous “bend over and think of your pension” relationship with the ohandgee corporate manipulators.

      As for Ineos, well, there are no sufficiently repeatable words to describe their TPD attitude and worse their actions on public and secret courts in polite, or looking at some of these triple A ranting posts, in impolite society either?

      • Phil C
        Good news for Rolls Royce in guess, who have been lobbying for it, and would like to build a few around the UK, or around the world in less densely populated areas than the UK.
        Ideally you Site them next to a town and use the hot water for district heating. Not much chance of that here in the UK in my opinion, no matter which gov and their ( always it seems ) hapless energy minister, is in power at the time.
        There will be a few empty sites down the Trent Valley soon, with good switch yards to plug them in to, plus a rusting rail network to carry away the spent fuel.

        • This update by the NT is very interesting. The Trust have done their homework.

          It is up to Ineos to prove necessity.

          If they go to court and Ineos looses the implications from that lose will have a negative effect right across the industry.

          If Ineos backs down then we can assume the necessity test cannot be met.

          Very thin ice for Ineos.

          • I wonder which marketeer wrote this piece of fake news….

            ‘“At INEOS we are developing a shale gas industry that is safe and essential for the UK and the economy.’ Clearly not safe and definitely not essential

            ‘It is estimated that the industry will create tens of thousands of well-paid jobs’ check out 1,000,000 climate jobs which can be created in the renewable industry

            ‘and INEOS has pledged to give 6% of revenue to local people – potentially amounting to billions of pounds.’ note the word ‘potentially’ followed by a big number plucked from the sky; err 6% of nothing equals nothing, especially if it’s hidden offshore….

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