Villagers have highlighted what they believe is the threat to five species of owl on land next to the IGas shale gas site at Misson, in north Nottinghamshire.
About 50 people from areas earmarked for fracking in three counties attended a protest and awareness-raising event outside the site entrance.
The event, hosted by Frack Free Misson, coincided with International Owl Awareness Day. It also marked the recent approval of IGas plans to continue construction work at the Springs Road site during the bird breeding season. (DrillOrDrop report)
Rare long-eared owls live and breed 125m away from the exploration site on the Misson Training Area Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Four other native species, barn, little, short-eared and tawny owls, have also been recorded.
The long-eared owl has become a symbol for Frack Free Misson in its campaign against the fossil fuel industry. Local resident, Julie Field, said:
“Frack Free Misson is fighting to save these beautiful creatures especially the long-eared owl which we are privileged to have at the adjacent SSSI. There are fears that the 24/7 noise, vibration and light will harm the ability of the owls to breed, forage and hunt.”
Sheelagh Handy, from Misson, said:
“We are still aiming to stop them and what better day to do this than on International Owl Awareness Day. The owls’ habitat will be recklessly damaged by the industry.”
Local people said they were concerned that the shale gas site would industrialise the area.
Mary Swindells, who lives a few hundred metres from the site, said:
“I am frightened by what it will do to my way of life – the lights and noise and effects on the local water supply as well as the disturbance to the bats which nest on my property.”
Bill Shaw, a longstanding Misson resident, said:
[I am] “dead against fracking and the damage it can cause to the environment. I am here to show support for the people who are working so hard to stop it.”
Frack Free Misson also ran an owl themed craft event in the afternoon on Misson village green. Kath Williamson was there with her family. She said:
“Fracking fractures communities. I am part of this movement to protect the future for my children and grandchildren.”
Construction work at Misson stopped at the end of March. But last month Nottinghamshire County Council gave IGas permission to resume the work during the remainder of the bird breeding season between 20 July and 31 August 2018.
A report for IGas, submitted to the council earlier this year, concluded that construction noise was unlikely to disturb owls or other birds. It said:
“predicted construction noise levels in the SSSI were well below the threshold for disturbance to owls contained in USA the Fish and Wildlife Service guidance”.
The report concluded:
“There is no reason why construction of the site compound and access
track should not go ahead at any time of year, including during the breeding season.”