Legal

Updated: National Trust drops objection to Ineos seismic surveys at Clumber Park

Clumber ParkNottinghamshire

Clumber Park Nottinghamshire. Photo: Richard Watson

Updated 21/12/2018.

The National Trust has withdrawn its opposition to seismic testing by Ineos at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.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

Update

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.”

 

 

49 replies »

    • And some people, I would suggest the majority, are members of the NT because they support the preservation of the natural environment and historic sites and buildings Martin!

      • I am a member for the car parking in the Lakes, particularly the two in Langdale. I know several other hill walkers who joined the NT for the same reason.

  1. Maybe some of them, (not 5 million), like one of my relatives, who lives near Clumber Park and worked for many years locally. He still enjoyed the seismic testing that was conducted on his land, (as it has been within Clumber Park) as some interesting relief from his day job. That was on behalf of the coal mining industry. He is no longer a member of the NT as he can still visit if he pays a little more, but is not supportive of the way they have treated a large number of their tenants.

    Just like the NT, he knew perfectly well, whatever the results there would be no drilling (mining) on his land. That was clearly discussed when this issue commenced and the point was made that the NT was on a hiding to nothing and would probably back down. Surprise? No.

  2. i do not understand the reference to INEOS bullying. what they have done is seek to apply national legislation. NT have presumably been advised by their lawyers that they would lose any court case. it is also interesting to look at the criteria in the Act :-

    (1)No right shall be granted under section 1 of this Act unless the court is satisfied that the grant is expedient in the national interest.
    .
    (2)No right shall be granted under section 1 of this Act unless it is shown that it is not reasonably practicable to obtain the right by private arrangement for any of the following reasons—.a)that the persons with power to grant the right are numerous or have conflicting interests;
    (b)that the persons with power to grant the right, or any of them, cannot be ascertained or cannot be found;
    (c)that the persons from whom the right must be obtained, or any of them, have not the necessary powers of disposition, whether by reason of defect in title, legal disability or otherwise;
    (d)that the person with power to grant the right unreasonably refuses to grant it or demands terms which, having regard to the circumstances, are unreasonable.

    looking at these, NT’s lawyers must have concluded that their refusal was unreasonable – none of the other criteria fit.

    in addition, the reference to the threat of damages is nonsense. costs maybe, but the only damages that may be sought would be against those seeking to prevent INEOS from exercising their rights

    • With respect fencesitter, I’m not sure you fully understand the legal interpretation of these words. If the licences and associated Acts have already determined a presumption in favour of the licensee then unreasonable is considered in that light. The process is that ideally access will be negotiated and agreed amicably, which previously for conventional onshore operations it has been. It is my understanding that these powers have not been used in court before. If you owned land and your choice was not to have fracking on your land and then a multinational multi billion company threatens to take you to court to access your land regardless of your wishes, either for surveys or extraction, you may not see that as being reasonable. You may also reflect that your private resources to meet any associated legal costs are significantly less than those of INEOS, so that the costs of defending your position and fighting to stop fracking on your land can quickly become prohibitive, whereas INEOS has extremely deep pockets. Many may consider this sort of situation bullying.

  3. No they don’t KatT. It was the NT that refused to discuss the matter with INEOS. To then expect that initial position to get any sympathetic reaction by the majority of the public, or the Courts, is fantasy. This landowner was NOT being asked to have fracking on their land.

    For an anti to argue against a commercial company using their commercial wealth is really a bit rich, when the antis strive continuously to impede progress of commercial companies by costing them money-and very open about it. Get used to it-that cake and eat it approach will not work with INEOS.

    • Ironic that in a reply from fencesitter that starts with “confident that I knew how to read” it then adds a hyphen into misunderstood, so perhaps spelling is a step too far!

      The point that KatT was making is a valid one. At the time of the 1966 Mining Act there was a national need for coal mines and it can reasonably be assumed that the general public would have been supportive of the legislation. By the government’s own surveys, only a small minority of the public support fracking and economic studies indicate that switching to renewable energy and energy saving would make more sense for the country, for jobs and for the environment.

      Therefore the application of an ancient piece of legalisation to override the landowner is unreasonable.
      The fact that INEOS can force this through makes it sensible for the NT to withdraw, which is a form of bullying.
      The fact that NT has withdrawn doesn’t mean that they have decided that everything is safe – it simply means that they had no choice.

  4. I resigned from the NT two years ago explaining that while nobody wants drilling in front of stately homes they are acting as selfish landowners by objecting to drilling on all their vast acres. Alas in this & other ways this once worthy organisation have joined the politically correct lobby.
    Huge landholdings carry obligations.

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