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