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


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

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.”

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.


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 »

  1. In the Telegraph article Lynn Calder, INEOS Shale, Commercial Director is quoted as saying: “Being forced to go to court is always a last resort.”

    This will come as news to the rest of the entire world who are individually and collectively the target of a pre-emptive injunction from this company. I don’t think she can really expect us to swallow that one can she? How stupid do they think everyone else is? 😂

    Well done to the National Trust for standing up to Big Plastic. Keep it up! We are right behind you!!

      • Sherwulf
        Interesting article.
        If they put the seismic machinery on the land in question they will certainly be breaking their word.
        Up to press they have kept their word. I will have another walk along the boundary tomorrow to see how they are getting on.

        Not much evidence of explosives in use, just machinery.

        There was no Robin Hood of course, but the thought keeps a small tourist industry going in Edwinstowe. It should pick up if they extend the Robin Hood line to Ollerton. Post the death of the coal industry the area is on its uppers.

        • ‘There was no Robin Hood of course, but the thought keeps a small tourist industry going in Edwinstowe’ hummmm me thinks ‘Robin’ keeps a few more industries going than that 🙂

  2. Perhaps if the NT had the courtesy, and sense, to engage with Ineos when they were approached rather than ignore them and hope they would go away there would be some sympathy. They simply know that they followed the wrong route that would stand against them if it goes to court, so are trying to show (too late) how reasonable they are. Having taken this amateur approach they recognise members will not be pleased if their memberships are squandered on the costs of a court case they are unlikely to win, and that Ineos will not go away, and will be likely to seek costs if court action is required.

    As stupid as the hundreds arrested reference one small site at PNR, refracktion, giving Ineos the documented evidence to obtain an injunction.

    Some think the past approach of trying to delay and intimidate will work with Ineos. Not going to be the case.

    Trust Ineos have kept your diesel going (paid with your plastic credit card?)

    • Well said Martn. I am pleased that at least someone here has the patience and stamina to repeatedly refute some of the more rediculous assertions we see made here day in day out. Unfortunately, I haven’t the time nor the inclination where people just will not listen.

      The post below yours is a prime example.

      Yet again I remind you all – Plastic is not going away any time soon. Your modern lifestyle 100% depends on its use. Plastic does not cause pollution to the oceans. It is PEOPLE who use it irresponsibly who pollute our oceans.

      We need serious, urgent, coordinated government action world wide to address this.

      Making silly repeated comments on a public forum is pointless and not going to acheive anything useful.

      • Fred Bloggs, I do not wish to be impolite but I t is little wonder no one is listening. The production of plastics causes huge pollution. It is an industry recognised as one of the main polluters. Many products made from plastic are very difficult to recycle and do not degrade quickly in landfill. Plastic can also contain harmful hormone disrupting chemicals that cause reproductive problems and cancer. How you can say plastics don’t cause pollution is beyond me. The overuse of plastic has now reached such a scale that if we cannot ship our plastic waste to China we have a significant waste problem. We have far too many single use plastic items, too many plastic bags and too much plastic wrappings that are not in any way essential. We could reduce plastic use significantly and indeed must do.

        • Let’s be very clear about this. You advocate a return to a world without synthetic polymers? I am sorry, you seem to be completely out of your mind. Either that, or extremely naive and very badly informed. It is not going to happen, it isn’t possible. Your statements about pollution are bizarre, frankly. How on earth can a modern society exist without synthetic polymers? Without synthetic polymers you would not be posting here. You have zero credibility I’m afraid trying these arguments. It simply does work. Nobody wants a world without synthetic polymers. Regarding reprocessing of polymer waste, let’s be quite clear – I advocate zero export of the UK”s rubbish whether it be plastic or anything else. It should all be treated right here in the UK using UK plants and employing UK people.

          Yet again – Plastics do NOT cause pollution, people DO.

    • Martin at a time when people are being made ill with toxic air pollution, when global temperatures are rising and if we carry on producing plastic at the rate we are we will soon have more plastic in are oceans than fish, it is nonesense to imply that anyone that opposes fracking is a hypocrite because they use plastics and fossil fuels. Many people do their best and would like to be able to do more but at the moment choice and options are limited. Government needs to take the lead in this and should be doing far more. It is a sad state of affairs when our government has to be summoned to court three times because it has failed to clean up the air we breathe. The government is also facing court action for failing to take sufficient action against climate change. It would seem the public are not the hypocrites it is the government.

  3. So who will the public trust with the land gifted into the care of the National Trust? The National Trust, with 5 million members? Or INEOS, with one multi- billionaire owner on a vanity project to big the big shale gas producer to feed plastics factory to keep himself in business. It is shale that is fuelling a massive expansion in plastics in the US that threatens the health of the worlds oceans from discarded plastic, and increases climate emissions. This is going to be a PR disaster for INEOS, and a wake up call to the public to just how cavalier INEOS will be this year until enough people stand up to these bullies: in court and in direct action. Well done National Trust.

  4. KatT-the production of plastics does not cause huge pollution. I did at one time believe you were one of the more logical amongst the antis.

    The misuse of plastic, and the failure to dispose of it correctly does cause huge pollution. Yes, pollution with plastic could be reduced dramatically if the world population was “limited” to 5 million.

    Sorry, if populations can not control what they do it is the populations that need to exert more control. It’s Sunday evening-how many of us will take a little drinkies before tomorrow? Is that not our responsibility to control? Or, is the answer to ban alcohol?

    And Ian, there are 3 owners of Ineos. And it is plastic in a key number of rivers that threaten the health of the worlds oceans-and they are NOT in the USA. And of course, you will be aware that seismic tests have previously been conducted in Clumber Park and all around that area?

    Interesting how a number of falsehoods are brought into the anti fracking debate as if anti frackers are not bright enough to realise they are falsehoods. But for such to come from other anti frackers I find somewhat patronising. I disagree with a lot of what some on this site state, but I will not resort to falsehoods to make my point.

    • ‘The misuse of plastic, and the failure to dispose of it correctly does cause huge pollution.’ At last a truthful statement. There are a few good uses of plastic; sadly the profiteers prefer to cover us in cling film, sell us a plastic tray instead of biscuits and triple wrap everything, mostly in un-recyclable products.

      The very clothes we wear are impregnated with toxicity which slews off into the wash, creeps into the ocean and is ingested by the fish; a divine justice that we eat the fish and kill ourselves in the process perhaps?

      We lived very well without this oil based stuff. We can and indeed do live without it.

      It is true some will always continue to smoke despite the negative health impacts to themselves and those who surround them, but if you are one, don’t try and rationalize your addiction.

  5. Ineos will back down. If they go to court they will open up high level dialogue on whether this industry is of National importance which of course it is not. The world is awash with cheap fossil fuels and ethane and it is of National importance that we wean ourselves off fossil fuels and reduce our reliance on plastics.

  6. The plastic bag consumption from supermarkets fell immediately by around 70% when laws were passed to insist that supermarkets add a premium for their use. So, no it’s not just down to public responsibility – where apathy often rules Martin – it is also down to the powers-that-be to set expectations and standards.

    Trust (capital T) is an operative word here Martin and Fred. If the head of Ineos can declare to the British public that there are no health or environmental issues raised by fracking-related industries from the experience of the United States (which is such incredible nonsense) then who to believe or trust? And when some of the pro-frackers on this site appear to be living in fairy-land equating things like a blowout on a car tire (approx 30 psi and full of air) with a blowout from a gas-well (possibly exceeding 15000 psi with methane and a toxic mix of contaminants, possibly ignited) spraying into the sky, then I think the question of who to actually speak and listen too is a moot point.

    [Typo corrected by moderator]

  7. Thank you Martin, happy New Year. Please rest assured I am sane. I think you are splitting hairs somewhat. If you look at plastic production as a whole, it includes the huge cracker plants that produce the ethane feedstock for plastic manufacturing. And even further down stream in production there are still issues with plastic manufacturing and waste as I have previously stated. Indeed Ineos’ Grangemouth Plant has the dubious honour of being the worst polluter in Scotland

    • Three very enlightening articles KatT, thanks.
      I think the mantra should be ‘Don’t buy it and they won’t make it!’

  8. KatT
    That would be the highest corporate CO2 emitter, not the worst polluter maybe. This is because fossil fuel power stations are either closed ( coal ) or only supplying only peak power ( Peterhead ). Hence the next industry down gets to the top of the list. Someone will always be the worst CO2 emitter I guess especially if they also generate their own power.

    And then, the highly populated central belt is highly populated due to the coal, shale oil and associated heavy industry ( ship building, steel, chemicals et al ) that flourished there.

    The SNP have a narrow path to walk, they could de industrialise completely of course, but I think they will try to keep the central belt industry and offshore industry for as long as they can.

  9. Looks good to me. The NT has finally invited INEOS to formally visit the park and have a look at it, seemingly on an escorted visit. My guess is that they have already been around it, of course.
    On that visit INEOS will have the opportunity to say what they would like to do no doubt, so presumably there will be some 2 way conversation.
    Plus people ( at the park ) will be asked to chip in.
    Let’s hope INEOS take up,the offer, and we know when it happens.
    I am a member of the NT, I walk, run and cycle round Clumber Park, and drink tea at the Cafe.
    I think a bit of Seismic Surveying is fine, depending on where they plan to do it and how they will manage it.
    After all, a fair chunk of it is farmland.

  10. What Ineos are being very disingenuous about is the idea that this is all just about seismic testing. Of course this is just a precursor to core sample drilling and ultimately fracking – why else would they want to do seismic surveys in the first place. So for the Ineos wonks to argue that this is just about seismic surveys is very dishonest. It’s just the beginning and we all know where it ends.
    And as for ‘court is the last resort’ … please, you’re killing me… tell that to Joe and Joe fighting their draconian injunction against protests at sites that don’t even exist yet.
    Ineos are the Monsanto of the fracking companies, and their bully boy tactics are at least waking people up to the threat they pose to our countryside. Well done National Trust.

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