Legal

INEOS criticised for “bullish approach” over access to land for seismic testing

Seismic Harthill 170627 Richard How HAF2

Seismic testing in South Yorkshire. Photo: Harthill Against Fracking

The organisation representing owners and managers of more than half the rural land in England and Wales has accused INEOS of damaging goodwill by taking the National Trust to court.

The Country Land and Business Association urged the company to retract a statement that it could go back to court to force the Trust to allow access for drilling and shale gas extraction.

Tim Breitmeyer CLA President

Photo: CLA

CLA President, Tim Breitmeyer (left), said the statement and the decision to take legal action to enforce access for seismic testing at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire “completely undermines the positive approach you have taken to date”.

In a letter dated earlier this month, Mr Breitmeyer, told INEOS Shale Chief Executive, Ron Coyle:

“By adopting such a bullish approaching and going to court over an issue like this, you damage the goodwill that has been building between you and landowners. If you are to restore relations, I would urge you to publicly retract this statement immediately, which has caused significant concerns at a time when landowner co-operation will greatly aid the development of the industry and should be a priority for INEOS.”

CLA letter to INEOS (pdf)

Mr Breitmeyer said the CLA took no position on shale gas as an energy source and until recently its members had been sympathetic to INEOS’s approach.

The letter said:

“A number of the larger estates with which you have been working report that they were able to negotiate mutually acceptable arrangements.”

But it added:

“The recent decision to take the National Trust to court to force them to grant access for seismic surveys and your comments that if there was sufficient gas, INEOS could go back to court to force the Trust to allow it access to drill and extract it, completely undermines the positive approach you have taken to date.”

Mr Breitmeyer added that the CLA, with 30,000 members, was clear in its defence of landowners’ right to decide what activities take place on their land.

This is the latest in a run of criticism of INEOS’s case against the National Trust. A coalition of environmental organisations, community groups and academics wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this month in support of the National Trust. 15 Yorkshire landowners wrote to The Times in February and were joined by another 27 a week later.

Mike Amesbury 180228 Parliamentary TVThe issue was also raised at Prime Minister’s Questions last month by the Cheshire MP, Mike Amesbury (right). He described how a constituent had been door-stepped by an INEOS land agent. Despite refusing the request for land access, she received an unsolicited pre-named contract a few days later.

Farming UK reported last week that the constituent, Alison Davies, alleged she had found people working for INEOS on her land. She told the website:

“I’d returned home and was very surprised to see them there taking pictures. They asked if they could do some exploratory work on my land but I said no and asked them to leave, but a few days later got paperwork through the door about how much they were going to pay me for anything they found. I found it very arrogant.”

Mr Amesbury added:

“Alison isn’t the first farmer in this area to make allegations of this sort of practice to me.

“She’s worried now that even if she rejects their advances they can drill underneath her land, and fears what impact that will have on the land and the grass her cows are eating. She feels that if this happens she may be forced to leave – which would be a tragedy as opening this farm was her dream.”

DrillOrDrop invited INEOS to comment on the CLA letter. This post will be updated with any response from the company.

27 replies »

  1. I’m not sure what the CLA spokesperson is referring to when he speaks of INEOS previous ‘positive approach taken to date’ Can anyone give examples of this?

  2. I thought INEOS had clarified that if they had a need to extract gas from under Clumber Park, in the future, they could do so from outside of the Park? If this is still the case, one would wonder why the CLA would make a statement without that knowledge.

    Landowners rights do NOT extend to what happens UNDER their land, although they may benefit greatly from it.

  3. Landowners had legal rights below ground (to an unrestricted depth) until it was taken away in the 2015 Infrastructure Act. I don’t remember there being any meaningful consultation on this move: it seemed at the time an undemocratic grab at the request of frackers, at a time when there was little understanding among MPs of the significance of this move. To bury the move in an unrelated bill about transport was deliberately designed to obscure the move and make it more difficult to oppose. In the US landowners usually have legal rights, not only to below ground, but mineral rights too. In the UK mineral rights belong to the crown and have been “licenced” to companies wishing to frack, without the consent of the people living above ground. This is the state of our democracy today, where even major landowners (largely Conservative supporters) are feeling excluded from decision making. Many share the National Trust’s commitment to look after the land for generations to come, a commitment not shared by fracking companies, nor indeed it seems by the current government.

    • Ian conlan

      I think you may not be quite right re the Infrastructure Act

      The infrastructure act speaks to Energy being petroleum and geothermal energy. See section 6. 43/44 in particular.

      Section 9 of the Coal Industry Act 1994 means landowners do not own the coal, nor have done for some time. Bad news for the Dukes in the Dukeries ( or big landowners ) but good news for the country. 1994 was when the Coal Authority was formed and they took over from British Coal, and, thanks to Nationalisation of the Coal Industry, the people owned the coal ( not the land owners ). Indeed, we still do, should you wish to go mine some, you will need to ask permission. The Crown has nothing to do with it.

      The Petroleum (Production) Act 1934 vested oil and gas under your feet to the Crown. Section 2 of the Petroleum Act 1998 supported it, so the infrastructure act is an update of all that.

      The Crown has right to all Gold and Silver mined under your property.

      Other minerals are in private ownership, not the crown.

      So it is not correct to say that the infrastructure act has taken away ownership,of oil and gas, as the residents of Eakring and many a similar village already know ( and it’s a question asked when you buy or sell a house ).

      If you want to extract it, you need to make a case to do so. However, if you have bought a PEDL from the owner ( the government ) then the case is somewhat made until the government changes its mind.

      Access has to be negotiated ( on the surface ) which is the issue in hand re INEOS and the National Trust, bring access for Seismic Surveying.

      As far as I am aware I still own the mineral rights to everything other than coal, oil, gas, gold, silver and deep geothermal. I certainly have the rights to shallow geothermal via a heat pump.

      • The lesson is simple. Just like every other right that has been stolen by government statute. If you want it back, then simply declare it is yours by right and challenge the government statute that took it away without your tacit consent or by consultation, or agreement, or permission, or contract.
        The way the corporate and hence government systems work is to assume that by not challenging such thefts directly as they happen within an allotted timespan, that you have given them your tacit consent and agreement to allow them to steal away your rights to the minerals and metals and oil and gas beneath your land.
        Issue them with the correctly worded notice of withdrawal of tacit consent and notice of their liability in removing such rights without your being given the opportunity in refusing to sign a contract to state that is the case. They will then will be forced to back down or have their back door assumption of tacit consent for every such legal theft challenged in every court in the land.
        Wake up and take back your legal rights that have been stolen from you.

      • I think your mineral rights only extend to a shallow depth Hewes62. But if you’re landed gentry or the CofE I believe you’d have full (depth) mineral rights, but not for petroleum/fossil fuel. Meanwhile Dutchy or Royal landholdings effectively belong to the State as I understand it.

        Mineral rights in many USA states cover everything which is true for most property owners. They can claim royalties off the gas companies and that’s why some people with lot’s of land have got rich, and it’s why some O&G propagandists – even on this site(!) – have used the devious argument that land values can go up in gas-field zones… well yes, but only if you’re in the States and own lot’s of land in a highly productive gas-field area and leave aside the fact that any income generated will soon pass and the land may not be good for much else (farming-wise) for a very long time.

        The CofE (who are surprisingly big land-holders in the UK), and certain gentry who have filled in the right forms, should be able drive a hard bargain with the gas companies because regardless of the end product the drillers have to ‘disturb’ several layers of minerals to get at it. Which may explain why the CofE was dashing around sorting its land holding paperwork out last year. But I’m sure any such deals would have a divisive effect on their congregations (many NT members no doubt!). In their beautifully diplomatic statement recently they said ‘we weren’t seeking or planning for gas exploration on our land’, which neatly sidesteps the question of whether it is actually other parties who are doing the ‘planning and the seeking’ rather than the ‘We’.

        [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

        • Phil P
          Yes, it’s access that has leverage in the discussion.
          Re my mineral rights, yes, probably shallow, but there are no manorial rights, nor has anyone found any other rights in the ( old ) village. So maybe we are ok.
          I note that mineral right holders have used their rights to prevent the building of wind turbines ( deep foundations ) and a Tesco in Workington! Or maybe extract some cash from the developer from disturbing their patch of gravel/ clay/ sand or whatever.

        • The Sirius (Potash mine) case that Martin raises below is interesting. It appears they’ve been offering royalties to farmers based on mineral rights even though their mine is very deep. Doesn’t seem like a lot of money, maybe just a sweetener to keep everyone happy. There’s still a lot of ifs and buts about the returns – at some point in the future. And it’s a bit like comparing apples and pears when it comes to surface works – one deep mine hardly compares to the rash or virus-like spread of gas wells and their necessary infrastructure (interlinked pipes, pumps, condensers etc).

          [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      • PS, you say:

        “If you want to extract it, you need to make a case to do so. However, if you have bought a PEDL from the owner ( the government ) then the case is somewhat made until the government changes its mind.”

        In fact the government do not own anything, they are hired bureaucrats who are supposed to negotiate and make policy on our behalf, they do not as such own a single thing, we do.

        Oh, they may treat such “resources” as their own to be divided up amongst whomsoever they wish to derive personal influence or future position, but in fact they do not “own” them and are little more than overpaid and over bearing civil servants.

        They appear to have forgotten that subservient position.

        it is always the case that established power bases, once ensconced and self serving enough, become dictatorial and selfish and treat public property and rights as little more than their own personal bottomless coffers to be pilfered by fair means or foul, apparently preferably the latter, at every opportunity.

        This has always been the problem with representative democracy since Greek times and always leads to dissolution decrepitude and decadence.

        Every civilisation lasts for approximately 200 to 250 years and goes through several stages:

        “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through a nine stage sequence:

        1 – From bondage to spiritual faith;
        – Great civilizations are formed in the crucible. The Ancient Jews were in bondage for 400 years in Egypt. The Christian faith and the Church came out of 300 years of persecution. Western Christendom emerged from the chaotic conflicts during the decline of the Roman Empire and the movements of often fierce “barbarian” tribes. American culture was formed by the injustices that grew in colonial times. Sufferings and injustices cause—even force—spiritual growth. Suffering brings wisdom and demands a spiritual discipline that seeks justice and solutions.
        2 – from spiritual faith to great courage;
        – Having been steeled in the crucible of suffering, courage and the ability to endure great sacrifice come forth. Anointed leaders emerge and people are summoned to courage and sacrifice (including loss of life) in order to create a better, more just world for succeeding generations. People who have little or nothing, also have little or nothing to lose and are often more willing to live for something more important than themselves and their own pleasure. A battle is begun, a battle requiring courage, discipline, and other virtues.
        3 – from courage to liberty;
        – As a result of the courageous fight, the foe is vanquished and liberty and greater justice emerges. At this point a civilization comes forth, rooted in its greatest ideals. Many who led the battle are still alive, and the legacy of those who are not is still fresh. Heroism and the virtues that brought about liberty are still esteemed. The ideals that were struggled for during the years in the crucible are still largely agreed upon.
        4 – from liberty to abundance;
        – Liberty ushers in greater prosperity, because a civilization is still functioning with the virtues of sacrifice and hard work. But then comes the first danger: abundance. Things that are in too great an abundance tend to weigh us down and take on a life of their own. At the same time, the struggles that engender wisdom and steel the soul to proper discipline and priorities move to the background. Jesus said that man’s life does not consist in his possessions. But just try to tell that to people in a culture that starts to experience abundance. Such a culture is living on the fumes of earlier sacrifices; its people become less and less willing to make such sacrifices. Ideals diminish in importance and abundance weighs down the souls of the citizens. The sacrifices, discipline, and virtues responsible for the thriving of the civilization are increasingly remote from the collective conscience; the enjoyment of their fruits becomes the focus.
        5 – from abundance to selfishness;
        – To be complacent means to be self-satisfied and increasingly unaware of serious trends that undermine health and the ability to thrive. Everything looks fine, so it must be fine. Yet foundations, resources, infrastructures, and necessary virtues are all crumbling. As virtues, disciplines, and ideals become ever more remote, those who raise alarms are labelled by the complacent as “killjoys” and considered extreme, harsh, or judgemental.
        6 – from selfishness to complacency;
        – The word apathy comes from the Greek and refers to a lack of interest in, or passion for, the things that once animated and inspired. Due to the complacency of the previous stage, the growing lack of attention to disturbing trends advances to outright dismissal. Many seldom think or care about the sacrifices of previous generations and lose a sense that they must work for and contribute to the common good. “Civilization” suffers the serious blow of being replaced by personalization and privatization in growing degrees. Working and sacrificing for others becomes more remote. Growing numbers becoming increasingly willing to live on the carcass of previous sacrifices. They park on someone else’s dime, but will not fill the parking meter themselves. Hard work and self-discipline continue to erode.
        7 – from complacence to apathy;
        – Increasing numbers of people lack the virtues and zeal necessary to work and contribute. The suffering and the sacrifices that built the culture are now a distant memory. As discipline and work increasingly seem “too hard,” dependence grows. The collective culture now tips in the direction of dependence. Suffering of any sort seems intolerable. But virtue is not seen as the solution. Having lived on the sacrifices of others for years, the civilization now insists that “others” must solve their woes. This ushers in growing demands for governmental, collective solutions. This in turns deepens dependence, as solutions move from personal virtue and local, family-based sacrifices to centralized ones.
        8 – from apathy to dependence;
        – As apathy increases, so does obeisance to self serving authority figures who offer everything but the truth. Apathetic people tend to become increasingly remote from the functions of the systems that regulate and control their lives. So they seek diversion and crass mind numbing entertainment and increasingly focus on the more salacious aspects of life that then become the primary source of diversion. In the absence of close attention on the hired civil servants, assuming they are autonomous and trustworthy, they unwittingly open the doors to established self serving private power bases. As centralized power becomes autonomous and increasingly unapproachable and unaccountable, the governance system becomes more and more populated and oriented towards private interests. Laws are proposed and instituted under the guise of increasing efficiency and cost, however such laws are made to benefit the government power base and the private interests, no longer are laws made or preserved to protect or serve the people. Existing laws that do protect the people are increasingly overturned and superseded with laws that benefit only more centralised power. These laws to suppress public and private opposition to those power bases, are enforced by an increasingly aggressive police agency. the Family structure is undermined, and education becomes a matter of enforcing compliance rather than free thinking and creativity. Eventually the people become divorced from the governmental system entirely and representation becomes superseded by centralised propagation of private interests.
        9 – from dependency back again into bondage.
        – As dependence increases, so does centralized power. Dependent people tend to become increasingly dysfunctional and desperate. Seeking a saviour, they look to strong central leadership. But centralized power corrupts, and tends to usher in increasing intrusion by centralized power. Injustice and intrusion multiplies. But those in bondage know of no other solutions. Family and personal virtue (essential ingredients for any civilization) are now effectively replaced by an increasingly dark and despotic centralized control, hungry for more and more power. In this way, the civilization is gradually ended, because people in bondage no longer have the virtues necessary to fight.

        In our present Plutocracy we have just made the transition from complacency to national apathy ~ which will surely be followed by dependence on the state and eventually bondage by the state. As Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, has said ~ ”We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy.”

        • This is a very good piece PhilipC – you should offer it up as a TED talk.

          But the knowledge that this process exists happily spurs those still not zombie-fied by objects and mindless entertainment to keep awake those who will spur on the next civilization.

          There are always seeds from great trees that will flourish when the forest has been burned down.

          • Hi Sherwulfe, I suspect its been done, I think there is one aspect of modern communications, the internet, that, if allowed to stay independent and objective, may confound the trend towards dissolution and decline into slavery and fascism.

            That is under severe attack at the moment, with the forces of self interest attempting to censor and redirect honest debate into safer accusatory personalisation of issues.

            We see that all the time here on Drill Or Drop.

            Fortunately the internet is still independent away from the lame stream media slave master propaganda channels.

            So perhaps one of the only ways to work around the inevitable fall of civilisation, is to preserve those independent sources and try to educate ourselves out of the decline and fall of the western empire?

            • I’m not sure ‘educate’ is the correct course, after all we have been ‘educating’ the ‘third’ [such an arrogant term] world for a few hundred years and where has it got them? Resources stripped, communities in disarray and their culture embedded in a post-modern book.

              The ‘education’ system here is now just another commodity and lip service to the life skills we are told we need which are at best worthless pieces of paper resulting from coached sessions.

              I would put forward the argument for responsibility; you are responsible for everything you do, that includes failure to interact with the systems to make positive changes whilst standing back and letting the few negatise all that was fought for out of the ‘suffering years’.

              There is no point putting animal crossings across the road to beep when it is safe to travel; show people how to cross at any point safely using judgement and experience, that’s why when the crossing is broken we can all continue to go about the business of living. Help those who need help, allow those who can have freedom of judgement and take the consequences; let the fools try and cross without knowledge and they will soon come over and join the community; if they are not squashed by their own arrogance first.

              You only get nothing from nothing; some on here need to try the something better from something started.

            • Yes Sherwulfe, of course, you are right, just communication is not enough, as you say, it is to take responsibility for our every word, thought and action. Then maybe we can wrest this insane cycle of self destruction back into some semblance of sanity and make plans for a better future for everyone.

  4. Well Ian, personally I would prefer Community Funds rather than landowners rewards (who already receive large financial support via agricultural support from those tax payers within the community, plus subsidised Red Diesel from the same.) However, in many cases where mining is undertaken extra rewards are also paid to the landowners, and I suspect this will develop in regard to fracking. A good example is with Sirius Minerals current project under the North Yorks. Moors where local landowners are absolutely delighted, some to shortly become £ millionaires. Strange how such a huge underground project can proceed without problems, such as water contamination, but a small bore drill has such great problems!

  5. Oh PhilipP, try a bit harder. Some landowners around Sirius will make £millions, hardly small sweeteners-I did reference that. You might also like to look at their community support commitments. Your research does seem very patchy. Equally, they will be extracting 10m-20m tonnes per year and conveying underground 20-30 kilometers to their own port facility. You can find all this info. very easy so why do you find it so difficult? Quite a bit of infrastructure required. Maybe it is simply that you want to try and confuse and not admit that little old UK can actually go ahead with such projects, in a controlled and responsible way, creating a large number of well paid jobs for decades to come, adding a significant amount to UK GDP and exports, and help to produce food for areas of the world desperate to do so?

    Quite revealing case of myopia-again.

    • Nice speculation. Already they’re dropping the 1000’s of jobs scenario to 1000 (maybe) – by not doing local processing of the polyhalite. Which landowners will make millions Martin – based on what exactly, royalties? A recent published (City A.M.) announcement states “Landowners including farmers, the Crown Estate and the Duchy of Lancaster are set to pocket some of the £65m in annual royalties Sirius is set to pay out when the mine is up and running”. Note the ‘some of’. Meanwhile they’ll be leveraging another 2.1 billion in debt and not expecting production until 2021, and peak output around 2026. Please let the specific farmers know they’re about to become millionaires based on your speculation (if you cannot tell us).

      Can you show where anyone will get royalties from the gas industry? I think not – just a downstream portion of tax revenue for the area as a whole. Have you sidestepped the issue of the multi-site, multi-well spreading infrastructure and their polluting impacts? Yes, avoided as usual. Try harder.

  6. Interesting that the myopia needs to be continued to create your own fantasy world, PhilipP. But this is not the first time where you have posted about a subject you have known little about and then demonstrated such in your rush to create a negative impact.
    Yes, I post as much as anyone else. But, there is a difference. I post on areas I have researched and avoid those areas I have not. If some want to create a fictional form of the truth it simply demonstrates the anti truth. Doesn’t convince anyone but those already convinced, as the two thirds demonstrates. If the minority need so much fiction to stir their blood and keep them on-side it raises an interesting question. Why?

    £65 million PER ANNUM in royalties, over $3 billion project cost BUT not much infrastructure there then, and not many landowners benefitting! The farmers concerned already know PhilipP and some have commented about it, so not speculation, and they supported the project from it’s early days. DYOR. There is a key difference with fracking which is that the economics of this project were able to be calculated from the early days and that is what swayed public opinion, against exactly the same players and tactics. The anti frackers have that to look forward to-if tests are successful.

    Royalties from fracking are slightly different as such benefits will be impossible to calculate until the economics have been verified from testing. But I suspect they may well then emerge, although the Government would also like the alternative of a more general Wealth Fund. Which is why your “friends” try to continue with the speculation about no economical production, via the often repeated John post.

    You mean “the multi-site, multi well spreading infrastructure and their polluting impacts” that already exist in the UK for other industries and are managed perfectly well? Some of them are called “farms”. Some of these farms will shortly have some lovely royalties to invest in making sure their farms are better in this, and other, respects. Increased income usually leads to increased investment. Perhaps the PNR area might see the same?

      • Another interesting video from Max Igan of The Crowhouse, talking about the reality of how government becomes corrupt and self serving and onto wider issues that are and will confront us increasingly as we travel through stage 8 and 9 of the rise and fall of civilisations.

        ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMz_chaJFnc&feature=em-uploademail )

        We may only get one chance of preventing the progress of the fall of civilisation and that is that we know it, and knowing it and doing something about it may either prolong the fall, or one hopes, totally reverse it into a new beginning.

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