INEOS wins approval for High Court challenge to National Trust over shale gas testing in historic park


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

The UK’s biggest shale gas company has been given leave to take action in the High Court to enforce access to the National Trust’s Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.

INEOS Upstream wants to carry out seismic testing in the Grade I historic park as part of its exploration for shale gas in the East Midlands.

The National Trust, which has refused access, has accused INEOS of failing to follow the “proper planning process”. It said the company had not demonstrated why the surveys were necessary. Friends of the Earth accused INEOS of “bully-boy tactics”.

INEOS said in a statement today the Oil and Gas Authority, acting for the Government, had granted permission for the case to go to the High Court.

A judge could force the National Trust’s to allow access for INEOS’s surveys.

Lynn Calder, Commercial Director of INEO Shale said:

“Legal action has been the last resort and we have used powers which prevent landowners from blocking projects which benefit the wider community and the nation as a whole. These surveys are both routine and necessary across the UK, including on National Trust land.

“The National Trust’s position is very disappointing as we have had positive relationships with a range of stakeholders and landowners during surveys. We have addressed a variety of stakeholder concerns in the past and are sorry the National Trust wouldn’t even have discussions with us in this case owing to a political objection to shale gas.”

The National Trust responded:

“Our founding principle is to protect the beautiful places in our care, and we believe Ineos has not yet followed the proper planning process, which would involve them fully considering the potential environmental impacts.

“Clumber Park is a Grade I listed park and gardens, much of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and visited by over half a million people each year. In our view, Ineos haven’t demonstrated to the Trust why it is necessary to carry out any surveys here or addressed our other reasons for refusing to grant access.

“We have no wish for our land to play any part in extracting gas or oil. We are already seeing the impacts 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.

“We’re disappointed by the OGA’s decision but due to the legal status of the case we can’t comment any further at this stage.”

Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:

“A huge fracking firm suing the National Trust to test for shale gas within the historic Sherwood Forest area will make people wonder what is sacred anymore.

“The spirit of Robin Hood will be bridling at these bully-boy tactics. INEOS’ fracking activities threaten to industrialise our green and pleasant land and people everywhere will be horrified.”

Internationally-protected species

Clumber Park covers about 3,800 acres, much of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is home to internationally-protected species including bats, woodlark, nightjar and great crested newt.

In January, the park’s general manager, Beth Dawson, wrote to INEOS, saying:

“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.”

At the time, INEOS responded that it was “happy to visit” but the legal action would continue.

In a document to Nottinghamshire County Council, INEOS said it had excluded other SSSIs from the seismic survey area. That document also excluded Clumber Park.

In January, DrillOrDrop asked INEOS whether it planned to carry out seismic testing in the Clumber Park SSSI. The company did not respond. We’ve put that question to the company again today and will update this post with any response.

We also asked what would be the total survey area in Clumber Park if the SSSI were excluded. INEOS did not respond to this question either and we’ve asked it again.

“Long-term potential of shale”

INEOS repeated today that seismic surveying was regarded as “non-intrusive”.

Lynn Calder said the company’s “continued investment in shale represents the confidence that it has in its long-term potential”.

If shale proved to be successful, she said, it would provide the UK economy with “highly competitive energy” and “enormous levels of investment and jobs in the North of England where they are desperately needed.”

She said “recent figures” estimated that the shale industry was expected to bring in £33 bn of investment into England in the next two years.

This figure is from a 2014 report by EY, itself based on a 2013 study by the Institute of Directors using US data and assuming 4,000 wells. More recently, a 2016 report for the cabinet office suggested only 155 shale gas wells were likely in the UK by 2025 (DrillOrDrop).

  • INEOS is already involved in two public inquiries over planning permissions, due to start in May and June, as well as possible case in the Court of Appeal over its injunction against anti-fracking protests. It is also seeking a judicial review against the Scottish Government over its ban on fracking.

29 replies »

  1. How to lose yet more public support. I’m sure they realise that the National Trust has over 4 million members, and I suspect the vast majority will not take kindly to the continued aggressive actions taken by In the A**e.

    • Amazing, 4 million to one against!
      Ineos have just alienated half the country and we believe in protecting our heritage.

      Own goal!

      In Junk that Ineos!

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • Patrick Sudlow
      No, the existing law allows the extraction of minerals from under your land if you allow it and or it is in the National Interest. If you oppose it, the national interest has to be taken into account.
      The test will be if it is in the National Interest. The coal has gone, the oil is to the East of the land so only shale gas is under consideration.

  2. Maybe INEOS and Greg Clark acting as OGA are in a conspiracy to finally discredit the fracking industry the length and breadth of the UK. Given the latest reports from near government bodies in 2017 and 2018 it is clear that not even the Government still believe UK shale gas has anything much to offer. Despite continued official bland claims that have not changed since 2011.

  3. I wonder how many more landowners Ineos will have to drag through the courts? And how misleading their PR person is, still using over exaggerated, discredited and outdated figures to try and justify the industry and company that so many now despise.

  4. I believe quite a few million donate money to Oxfam as well. Doesn’t mean they agree with the way it manages its operations. For the majority of NT members it means they like a discount.

    The NT has a poor recent history of PR from suspect management decisions. If they have not entered into discussion with INEOS regarding this subject, as indicated, then they will be on the back-foot legally.

    • As there is no proven need for a new fossil fuel industry in the UK industry Ineos will loose. When that happens the remaining few investors will disappear.
      The argument that shale could replace some imports will never be justification for making the industry a nationally significant infrastructure project.
      We have huge North sea reserves and choose to import from Norway and Qatar as this gives us energy security and profitable trade agreements.
      The argument for shale can only stand if we have nowhere to go to for our oil and gas.
      That is not the case. Far from it.

      • Those huge North Sea reserves that we have John, don’t push us high enough to be included in the list of the top 25 countries with proven gas reserves.
        We are however listed as the 10th largest user of gas in the World, which is a bit of a worry for the trade deficit.

        • Lucky we have enormous modern LNG ports and sound infrastructure to receive diverse supplies.

          The George Osbourne plan in 2011 to financially cripple the North sea and pave the way for shale has failed miserably.

          Did he really think the offshore industry would stand down?

          Of course his main problem was time. He needed to shout out ‘the North sea is in decline’ and quickly bring the shale knight in armour to save us from darkness.

          Sorry to disappoint but a well organised community is a lot smarter than any lobbyist or bent politician
          To much time has now passed

          The end is nigh for UK shale.

          I would imagine this latest bullying of the National Trust will be seen by many other drillers as counterproductive as it clearly shows a complete dismissal of the genuine concerns of those appointed to protect our environment and will have serious negative repercussions on the industry as a whole.

  5. KatT-Lynn Calder is Commercial Director of INEOS Shale, not their PR person. Where’s the “sisterhood”?

  6. Sorry about your N.Sea investments John, but they have no relevance at all regarding this matter. It will be whether the law allows for someone to decide they are not covered by the law. I suspect that may be quite a difficult “sell”.

    Your second to last sentence is a classic. What is the National Debt standing at currently? Ahh-the Magic Money tree springs into new life. Norway a lovely country and nice people but I’m not sure they offer significant trade agreements to UK. And if you check their northern border defence plan I would suggest “secure” is a bit of a long shot too.

    • Ahh but Martin, your Utopia of self sufficiency with shale would be a ticking time bomb for energy security; dump the other importers and you end up with a single supplier; equals price hike for consumer; when said commodity runs out then back to the alternate suppliers who will either stick their middle finger up at you, politely tell you they have another longer term customer thanks, or charge you an excessive price!

      Continued trade with a variety of suppliers keeps the price reasonable; put more on the market and you will force the price of the commodity down so that you go out of business, despite the supply.

      So back to the Ineos vs National Trust….

      ‘Recent figures on jobs and investment estimate that the shale industry is expected to bring in £33 billion* of investment into England alone over the next two decades’. – *read ‘for us’ and can we see them? No thought not as they will show the true nature and use of any shale gas/ethane extracted…..and I hope they have offset these with the costs incurred to the country from job losses in other sectors, higher prices from imported foods due to local produce not able to be sold, personal wealth loss for retirement, additional costs to NHS and social care, road repairs etc, etc, etc. The North does not want or need this type of ponzi industry; bugger off back to Switzerland and take your yachts with you.

      …and as a landowner, when does NO mean NO? If the current governance really believed in this dirty industry they would have called it in…they have not. INEOS you are wasting your time. Another step towards attempting the removal of freedom of choice is another minute closer to an alternative governance who, sadly for you, do not support shale at all!

      See you on the slopes…

  7. Ahh, but you have forgotten Sherwulfe that UK shale gas would have a competitor in UK off shore gas. A convenient slip to make an argument but doesn’t add up. Same as the Ponzi scheme nonsense-you really need to tell us how we are going to invest in INEOS. You have been challenged on that before, but fail to come up with anything. And then, back to the fabricated scaremongering.
    The barrel is running pretty dry for the antis. Good job the pros will fill it up.

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