Chemicals giant INEOS has identified a potential shale gas drilling site in the heart of Sherwood Forest, Friends of the Earth can reveal. The revelation comes weeks after INEOS told local people that it had no intention of drilling inside the forest.
A fresh set of correspondence between INEOS’s land surveyors and the Forestry Commission, obtained by Friends of the Earth using Freedom of Information requests, reveals that they plan to put at least one drilling rig in The Lings, on the western edge of Sherwood Forest.
In an email dated 22 November 2016, INEOS’ land surveyors Fisher German Priestner wrote to the Forestry Commission concerning a “Proposed Well Site – The Lings at Clipstone”. The correspondence also contains maps showing a proposed well site in The Lings – at a spot just 500m from the Thynghowe, an ancient Viking assembly site deemed to be of international significance.
These woods lie within the boundary of the proposed Sherwood Forest Regional Park in an area identified as ‘The Heart of the Forest’; are well within the historic extent of Sherwood Forest; and are labelled as being part of Sherwood Forest on Ordnance Survey maps.
INEOS have claimed that they have no plans to drill in Sherwood Forest. In a 2-page colour advert that they recently paid for in local papers, they state: “Despite what people may have read or heard, we have no intention of placing drilling rigs for shale wells inside the forest now or in the future”.
INEOS have accused Friends of the Earth of “scaremongering” for revealing the company’s planned seismic surveys in Sherwood Wood.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:
“We already knew INEOS wanted to explore for shale gas in Sherwood Forest by carrying out seismic surveys – now, despite their assurances, we see they want to drill there, too.
“INEOS appear to have no qualms about drilling in what they call ‘arguably the most famous forest in the world’, and they are prepared to mislead communities about their intentions to get what they want.
“The public don’t want fracking and we don’t need it. INEOS should abandon its plans to frack in Nottinghamshire and invest in clean renewables instead.”
Local resident and member of Frack Free Sherwood, Deb Hodson, said:
“Our beautiful historic woodland is the home to many ancient oaks, many species of wildlife and fauna. It is also a place of historic significance not only with its links to King John but also an important Danelaw meeting place. Our concerns around fracking in this area have been confirmed by INEOS themselves.
“My hope is that now the general public can see the constant discrepancies that are being put forward by INEOS, they will research for themselves how this will affect our community.”