Multinational chemicals company planning Sherwood Forest fracking

Major Oak, Sherwood Forest

Global chemicals company INEOS wants to frack Sherwood Forest, an investigation by Friends of the Earth has revealed.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show INEOS – via their land surveyors, Fisher German – to have been in correspondence with the Forestry Commission since August 2016, regarding access to its land.

INEOS wants to carry out “seismic surveys” on numerous public forestry sites – the first stage of prospecting for shale gas, and a precursor to potential fracking.

One of the many shown in the maps and documents released is Sherwood Forest national nature reserve, on land owned by the Forestry Commission and by Lord Inglewood.

Friends of the Earth says that if these plans progress, INEOS’ seismic surveys would pass within a few hundred metres of the Major Oak, an 800-year-old tree under whose canopy Robin Hood’s merry men and women are said to have slept.

The maps reveal that INEOS also wants to carry out seismic surveys on National Trust land at Clumber Park, a large country estate to the north of Sherwood Forest.

The National Trust has a stated policy that prevents fracking on their properties.

Numerous other sites across Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands are in line for INEOS’ seismic surveys.

The Forestry Commission documents also reveal INEOS to be planning an exploratory well at Thieves’ Wood, south of Mansfield. No planning application has yet been lodged.

In the correspondence, Forestry Commission officials advise INEOS’ surveyors that the site they propose would get “less push back from the public”, but also demand a compensation clause be inserted in their agreement “to cover the costs of protestors”.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “Is nothing sacred? By hunting for shale gas in Sherwood Forest and on National Trust land, chemicals giant INEOS is sticking two fingers up at England’s green heritage, all in the pursuit of profit.

“INEOS seems to have taken a different message than the rest of us from Robin Hood.

“INEOS should back off and drop their quest for fracking. The public wants to protect their English countryside and prefers renewable energy, not dirty shale gas, which will only add to climate change.”

INEOS recently moved back into the UK, saying it wanted to invest more than $2bn in a range of projects. The company’s owners are now tax resident in the UK.

INEOS founder and chairman Jim Ratcliffe said: “Whilst INEOS is an Anglo-Swiss company, our new base in London reflects our British roots. The future for INEOS is very bright and much of this optimism comes from our UK based operations. We currently supply 1 in 10 British homes with gas, we have a growing trading and shipping business and our chlorvinyls business has doubled in size. We are also planning to extract shale gas in the north of England and to grow the newly revitalised Grangemouth.”

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