The National Trust has withdrawn its opposition to seismic testing by Ineos at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.
The organisation was facing a case at the High Court next year after refusing access to the site to explore for shale gas. Ineos has stopped ts legal action.
But the National Trust has said it would continue to fight against fracking. Andy Beer, the Director of the Midlands for the National Trust said:
“Our position has not changed: we oppose fracking at Clumber Park.
“We think it is wrong that we, or any other landowner, should be compelled to admit surveys at a place as special and loved as this.
“Despite our best efforts to explain why Clumber Park is so sensitive and such an inappropriate site, Ineos is intent on pursuing access to survey at the site.
“We have a duty to ensure that the surveys are carried out in ways that absolutely minimise the risks of damaging wildlife, fragile habitats and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people to enjoy Clumber Park.
“Let me be clear though: Clumber Park comes first. And, as such, we have demanded that INEOS provides assurances that these surveys will not damage this special place, which is our main priority.
“It is important at this stage to make the distinction between carrying out seismic surveys to search for shale gas on the one hand, and fracking itself. We are still completely opposed to fracking at Clumber Park and will fight tooth and nail to protect the area.”
Ineos already had the go-ahead from the Oil & Gas Authority to bring a legal case under the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966 to get access to Clumber Park. The case was due to go to trial in the spring 2019. More details
The National Trust had previously said that Ineos did not follow proper planning processes, which, it said, should have involved fully considering the potential environmental impacts. Another key issue was expected to be the impact on the Site of Special Scientific Interest, which made up more than 1,300 acres of the 3,800-acre estate.
Ineos had argued that seismic surveys were not intrusive and represented no threat to Clumber Park. The survey was in the national interest and, in refusing access, the National Trust had behaved unreasonably. An Ineos executive had previously said the testing could avoid the SSSI.
In March 2018, a coalition of environmental organisation, community groups and academics wrote to the Prime Minister in support of the National Trust in its legal case against Ineos. DrillOrDrop report
On 21 December 2018, Ineos said it had stopped its legal action against the National Trust.
Tom Pickering, chief operating officer of Ineos Shale, said:
“I am delighted that INEOS and the National Trust have now reached an agreement to allow a geological survey at Clumber Park. There is an expectation for us to survey sites within our licence areas. Whilst we will always seek to secure access through the courts if necessary, this is a last resort and we are pleased that in this case the National Trust has now recognised our legal right to survey on their land.”
“Our position has always been that the National Trust’s reasons for refusing to allow the survey at Clumber Park to take place were unreasonable and that the Court would therefore grant us the right to undertake the survey. I am very pleased that the National Trust has now been reassured that the surveys are safe and pose no threat to the beautiful landscape of Clumber Park. We will ensure the surveys are carried out sensitively.”