15 Yorkshire landowners, holding more than 80,000 acres, have publicly supported the National Trust in the legal challenge from INEOS over access for shale gas testing.
They include Nick Howard, of Castle Howard, Sir William Worsley of Hovingham Hall, Sir Richard Storey, of Settrington House and the television presenter, Selina Scott.
The landowners wrote to today’s Times saying:
“We are united in our support for the National Trust in its resistance to a legal challenge by INEOS to access its land for the purposes of gas exploration.”
Yesterday, the shale gas company announced it had received permission to take its case against the Trust to the High Court.
INEOS wants to carry out seismic testing in the Trust’s Grade 1 listed historic Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. The process is used to understand the geology of shale rocks and identify the best place to drill or frack wells.
The National Trust has refused access to the park. It said INEOS had not followed the proper planning process and had failed to demonstrate why the surveys were necessary at Clumber Park. The National Trust added:
“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.”
In today’s letter, the landowners said they took seriously the management of their land.
They said INEOS’s case, which would allow it to do something on land it did not own, “had resonance with an earlier legal process that established the right of habeas corpus”. They said:
“As landowners, perhaps we are claiming the right of habeas terra – the right to control what happens on our land.”
INEOS has been carrying out seismic testing in the East Midlands since last summer. It is expected to begin tests in its Yorkshire exploration licences later this year.
Yesterday the company said the Oil and Gas Authority, in granting permission for the case to go to court, had noted the UK Government’s support for a shale industry and that the surveys were required to explore for resources in the licensed area.
Today, the landowners compared the consumption of hydrocarbons to that of sugary drinks:
“The ambition should be to reduce the consumption of a product that is not without harm to the planet.”
“In our view the extraction of shale gas does not produce “infrastructure”, rather it is a speculative process by highly leveraged companies to extend the use of hydrocarbons. There is no shortage of gas on the world market.”
“Fracking requires local communities to pay a high price both socially and environmentally. We have no wish to be party to an unwanted development or inappropriate use of land that we own.”
DrillOrDrop invited INEOS to comment on the letter. A company spokesperson said:
The National Trust’s position is very disappointing as we have had positive relationships with a range of stakeholders and landowners during surveys. The National Trust wouldn’t even have discussions with us in this case owing to a political objection to shale gas.
The key message here is that if shale gas proves to be successful in the UK it will become a vital piece of the nation’s infrastructure, and will provide the UK with highly competitive energy, meaning we will be less dependent on foreign supplies. It will also generate enormous levels of investment and jobs in the North of England where they are desperately needed, and will also help the UK to meet its climate change commitments.
Manufacturing jobs are not created without investment and there is precious little investment in the North of England in manufacturing. 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
The resources beneath our feet can be used to create jobs, heat our homes, go a long way towards self-sufficiency and improve our balance of payments and the environment all at the same time.
Updated 24 February 2018 with quote from INEOS spokesperson