BY RUTH HAYHURST ON FEBRUARY 15, 2017
The National Trust is continuing to refuse access for seismic surveying at historic Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, despite threats of legal action.
The Trust has said it is opposed to fracking and won’t allow surveying for fracking purposes.
INEOS Shale wants to carry out seismic surveying in the exploration licence area which covers the 3,800 acres of Clumber Park.
Its Operations Director, Tom Pickering, has said if INEOS cannot get access by negotiation it will use the courts.
But the National Trust is standing firm. A spokesperson said this afternoon:
“We have been contacted by INEOS Shale with regards to carrying out investigative surveys relating to gas and shale extraction on National Trust land at Clumber Park.
“The Trust is opposed to fracking on its land and will reject any fracking requests or inquiries. Consistent with this, we will always say no to surveying on our land for fracking purposes.”
Clumber Park has the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. Photo: (c) Copyright Duncan Grey and licensed for reuse under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sal/2.0
Another large landowner in the East Midlands has submitted to INEOS following threats of legal action.
The Chatsworth estate has allowed the company access to its land between Chesterfield and Worksop. The estate’s marketing manager, Jonathan Fish, said in an email:
“INEOS informed us that where they do not achieve access to and via negotiation, they would pursue the provisions available to them under the Mines (Working Facilities & Support) Act 1966, in order to gain access for the purpose of the survey. We have therefore agreed to the survey”.
Seismic surveys are usually classed as “permitted development” which means they don’t normally need planning permission.
But oil and gas companies do need the consent of the owner. Where access is refused, companies can use the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1996.
This allows them to apply for an “ancillary right” of access. The first step is to write to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to get ministerial approval to go to court.
If the minister considers the operator cannot progress any further by negotiation and there is a suitable case for access, he or she will refer the case to court.
The court must be satisfied that the application is “expedient in the national interest”. It must also consider the impact of seismic surveying on local amenities. It will determine whether access should be granted and the basis of any compensation for the landowner.
The process can take up to two years.
A spokesperson for INEOS said today:
“We remain hopeful of agreeing access to conduct seismic data acquisition surveys on land owned or managed by the National Trust within our licence areas.
“While the National Trust may have a “presumption against fracking” a seismic survey provides more geological information than for that purpose alone. An extensive regional survey would be of great interest to scientists now and in the future as the data would become part of the geological database of the UK and including Clumber Park would be helpful to that national interest.
“We are currently receiving signed licence agreements daily and all being well expect to start survey work in the East Midlands region in the first half of 2017.
“Except in exceptional circumstances we do not anticipate applying under the Act. Large tracts of land such as Clumber Park can be dealt with separately to the rest of the survey and any action we decide to take under the Act will not hold up the main survey.”