Legal

Updated: National Trust letter urges INEOS to abandon seismic surveys at Clumber Park

clumber-park-bridge

Clumber Park, bought by the National Trust in 1946. Photo: (c) Copyright Carl Hinde. Licensed for re-use: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

The National Trust has appealed to INEOS Shale to reconsider its plans for shale gas surveying at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.

The general manager at Clumber Park, Beth Dawson, wrote to the company, urging it to withdraw its application to carry out seismic surveys on the 3,800 acre historic estate.

Last month, INEOS announced it was applying to the Oil and Gas Authority for the right to carry out the surveys – a preliminary operation to drilling and fracking for shale gas. (DrillOrDrop report and INEOS press statement)

This morning’s Sunday Telegraph reported the Trust had written “a heartfelt letter” to INEOS’s planning and environment manager, asking the company to abandon its Clumber Park survey.

The letter in full

Without prejudice to INEOS’ application to the OGA and/or any subsequent court proceedings

Re. Application to survey land at Clumber Park

Dear Lynne Campbell

I’m writing to you as general manager of the National Trust’s Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire.

And I do so to make an appeal both to you personally and to your company. As you’ll be well aware, INEOS has applied for rights to survey our beautiful parkland in order to explore the potential for fracking.

We cannot prevent you from taking legal action, but I do also believe that you are reasonable people who recognise how much we as a nation love our countryside and heritage.

That’s why I’m asking you to reconsider your approach and withdraw your application to survey at Clumber Park.

The National Trust is not motivated by politics and has no desire to become a campaigning group. We are a conservation charity, funded by our supporters, to look after beautiful places for the nation, for ever.

And Clumber really is special. It’s a huge privilege to be the custodian of this nature-rich, oasis, which is loved by people from all over the country.

Clumber is home to the increasingly rare woodcock, cuckoo, lesser spotted woodpecker, marsh tit, song thrush, yellow hammer and lesser redpoll. Otters, slow worm, viviparous lizard, and grass snake and at least nine species of bat thrive here.

It is nationally significant for its priority habitats, and the most important site in the region for wildlife.

The Grade-1 listed parkland is a site of special scientific interest, and has internationally protected species (bats, woodlark and nightjar, great crested newt). It supports a number of nationally scarce invertebrates.

Clumber welcomes 500,000 people every year and is more popular than it’s ever been. People have a deep emotional connection to it, they cherish it, and rightly expect us to look after it.

It’s easy to talk about how special Clumber is but it’s only when you see it in its full glory that you really understand why it’s so special. I would welcome the opportunity to show you around the park land, the wildlife and habitats, and talk to families who visit the site.

We’re a conservation charity with over five million members and an estimated 200m visits to our outdoor sites each year. People support us because they love visiting our countryside and heritage. They care about its future and expect us to look after it.

I hope you will take time to consider my request and would welcome the opportunity to show you around Clumber so you can see for yourself why we want to keep it just the way it is.

Yours,

Beth Dawson General manager, National Trust Clumber Park

“Court is always last resort”

In a statement, Lynn Calder, INEOS Shale’s Commercial Director, said today:

 “Being forced to go to court is always a last resort. We would prefer to settle issues amicably as we have with the vast majority of the land owners that we deal with across Britain. We had written to the National Trust on various occasions since August 2016 regarding our request to access their land as part of a surveying programme we are currently undertaking in the East Midlands. Sadly until this moment they had refused all of our requests to meet with them, which ultimately led to our decision to pursue this through a court process. We are pleased to see that they are now finally willing to meet with us.

“The work we have asked for the Trust’s consent to undertake in the park is merely for general surveying purposes, categorised by the UK’s Oil & Gas Authority as ‘non-intrusive’. It is important to state that our planned survey of the geology beneath Clumber Park represents no threat whatsoever to the landscape, the environment, its ecology or the unique buildings that are established within it, in the same way that historical seismic surveys carried out in the park caused no such damage. The data obtained from this survey within the park will ultimately be gifted to the nation.

“The elected UK government sets energy policy, not the National Trust, so it has been disappointing that the Trust has, to date, politicised this issue and stopped us undertaking survey work across some parts of the licence areas awarded to INEOS by the Oil and Gas Authority.    It is important to remember that compulsory rights of access exist in Acts that underpin other nationally important utilities, such as electricity, water and telecoms to ensure that a landowner cannot stand in the way of national interest or indeed the wider benefit of the local community.

“As an investor in conservation projects across the globe, INEOS cares for the beauty and integrity of the unique landscape and countryside across Britain. If we thought that our surveying work would cause environmental damage to the park we would not be undertaking it.”

Legal process

In December, INEOS Shale said it had submitted an application to the Oil and Gas Authority for access to Clumber Park. If granted, this would allow INEOS to seek a court order. Link

Under the Mines (Working Facilities and Sujpport) Act 1966, INEOS would have to prove that the Trust had been unreasonable and the survey was in the national interest.

Clumber Park is in the exploration licence PEDL308, granted to INEOS by the government in the 14th licensing round. Under the licence agreement, INEOS  must acquire 100km of 2D seismic survey and 100km2 of 3D seismic data in the PEDL area, as well as drilling a 4,000m vertical well and fracking a horizontal one. The work must be carried out by July 2021.

Update

On 24 January 2018, INEOS replied to Ms Dawson at Clumber Park saying the company would be “happy to visit” Clumber Park but the legal action would continue.

The letter, signed by INEOS Commercial Director, Lynn Calder, said:

“There will be no threat to the park, its ecology or its buildings as a consequence of allowing access for a seismic survey”.

It added that INEOS had legal obligations to the UK government to undertake exploratory and technical work in its licence areas.

“Given the time constraints … and the current status of our formal legal action, you will understand that we must continue to pursue that legal action in the meantime.”

Letter from INEOS to Clumber Park (pdf)

Post updated 24/1/2018 to include letter from INEOS to Clumber Park

32 replies »

    • Phil P

      The lobbying predates Brexit and would be the same I expect, if the vote had been for us to remain.
      I do not think that anyone in Boston would have been thinking of the Carbon tax and the chemical industry when voting to leave, but then I have not asked them!

  1. I was waiting to see what would be the approach to deal with the new “threat”, Ineos. First there was a bit of anti movement to Switzerland but that fell on deaf ears once facts were checked, then a bit of anti Unite and that suffered the same fate.

    Now, we have a grouping of anti plastic posts. Interesting. But, can’t see that approach getting anywhere either. Like attempting to blame manufacturer of Viagra for an increase in STDs. As a world population of approaching 10 billion we are able (in many cases) to deal with waste we produce, plastic is no different. Demons have to be produced, it seems, to justify antisocial activity, but this is a pretty lazy attempt to jump on a band wagon. Must be losing core support.

    All this whilst 1 million barrels of oil causing a maritime disaster. Not better to avoid that with on shore oil and gas production for local consumption?

    Going back to the letter from the NT, they have been foolish not to enter into a dialogue with Ineos and it is almost guaranteed their legal advisors are attempting to negate the downside of that expecting legal action may follow. Seismic tests have previously been conducted all over the area, and local landowners tell me they were done without inconvenience, no burst water pipes, no adverse effect upon flora and fauna and a point of interest for many locals.

  2. Maybe Ms Dawson, while she is showing INEOS around, could point out the damage done (or lack of) by the previous seismic acquisition carried out in Clumber. What has been the effect on wildlife, habitat, by the previous acquisition? I assume she’s got some sort of evidence?

    • I think you’re missing the point AI. The seismic testing is seen as “a preliminary operation to drilling and fracking for shale gas”. As harmless and unobtrusive as such testing may be if you don’t want to be involved in that ‘game’ in the long run then why raise hopes by allowing the first move to be taken? A bit like dealing with children really no matter how big or expensive their toys are.

      If it’s simply for national geological records then there are probably some academic surveyors that would be interested and that would be far less contentious. Why pretend that this isn’t about exploring the potential for unconventional gas extraction?

  3. No, I think you are missing the point PhilipP. Previous seismic tests were NOT for fun, they were related to the mining industry all around that area.

    NT know they have been put into a corner. Are they going to say in court that coal mining is okay, fracking isn’t but they are not an activist organisation? Good luck with that-especially as both activities could (if decided upon) happen well outside of Clumber Park, and cause no interference to any flora and fauna or visitors in the Park. They could have found all this out if they had discussed the matter with Ineos, but they didn’t. Same as someone receiving a bill in the post and deciding to ignore it. Not a good defence in law.

    Of course it is about exploring the potential for unconventional gas extraction but such tests are required not only to identify where that potential is but also where it isn’t. You state you want Gold Standards but then propose a slipshod approach to exploration. I have seen recent posts on DOD from antis questioning why an exploration company has chosen a site, and suggesting better sites were available. Who is to know if that is the case or not if basic tests have been restricted?

    • I see you’re still very unfamiliar with English values and norms GBH, not to mention the ‘owners’. Messing with the National Trust will be like the old ‘third rail’ phenomenon (which you’re probably unfamiliar with also) – touch it and you die. You might win the court case but ultimately a government will pay dearly. This isn’t Trump-Land you know, much as you would like it to be.

      Martin I didn’t say anything about this game being played for fun. As all of you pro frackers have failed to talk honestly about the risks (to groundwater, air pollution and environmental degradation) and run a mile when I challenge you for the actual stats and calcs, which you should have at your fingertips if actually speaking from experience (from 10 years worth of data on contemporary HVHF practices) one has to conclude that this whole drive is being driven cynically and exploitatively by those who do not have the best interests of the country, people and environment in mind.

      • Well said Phillip P.

        It’s becoming very tiresome listening to the ‘Game of Moans’ and its occupants vying for the position of ‘Ruler of Empty Rhetoric’ to sit on the Plastic Throne; oft proven when those who support shale extraction clearly do not read the great articles provided by Drill or Drop except to extract a diversion or form an attack on their ‘enemy’ the ‘anti-fracker’. It’s a shame as there were a few supporters last year who had interesting perspectives, but they seem to have buggered off [edited by moderator]
        There have been some very interesting links posted recently and more information about the ‘industry’ is emerging by the day, which threatens to reduce its effectiveness and finally repel the ‘Shite Walkers’.

        Here be dragons……….

        • Cheers Sherwulfe. It’s true what you say. I think those bilious, anachronistic arguments are like witnessing a record player stuck in the groove. Lessons for the younger generation though, still to be gained from learning the tricks, the propaganda and the shtick, and how to fight back. The more the lies and misinformation gain attention, and keep stalking the corridors of power, the more damage they (the next generation) will be inheriting.

  4. I thought personal insults were to be edited on this platform?

    Seems not for 2018. Not a problem to me, but I shall continue to make my point without resorting to such nonsense and pointing out when posters make false assertions. (It’s a busy job, but it could easily be lightened if facts and logic were utilised.) When some react with personal insults it simply confirms they are unable to substantiate their posts.

    If individuals do not “value” my posts, fair enough. Don’t read them. I can recommend it.

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