Sherwood Forest fracking plans – the fight continues

Guy Shrubsole

29 March 2017

Local resistance, huge petitions and investigative exposes have helped stall INEOS's dash for shale gas  but there's lots of work to do still. 

At the start of this year, an investigation by Friends of the Earth revealed that chemicals firm INEOS wanted to explore for shale gas in beautiful Sherwood Forest.

Was nothing sacred, we asked?

Over a quarter of a million people agreed that this was an outrage – and signed petitions by ourselves and 38 Degrees calling on the Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, to save Sherwood Forest and other public forests from being fracked in future.

The impact of our voices against fracking

We delivered these petitions to the Environment Department and Forestry Commission in late January, accompanied by Robin Hood and with the blessings of Friar Tuck (well, Phil Rose, the actor who played the good Friar in the 1980s TV cult classic Robin of Sherwood).

Alas, the Secretary of State politely declined to meet us.

But our voices have had an impact: at the time of writing, we understand INEOS still hasn’t been able to strike a deal with the Forestry Commission for access to Sherwood Forest.

By shining a spotlight on their secret plans, we’ve bought some time.

Major Oak, Sherwood Forest
Hundreds protested at Sherwood's Major Oak in January, by Rachel Kennerley

And people are mobilising – hundreds turned out at a week’s notice to our first demonstration next to the 800-year-old Major Oak and to subsequent rallies organised by residents’ group Frack Free Sherwood.

Meanwhile, INEOS has upped the ante. We’ve since exposed their plans not only to conduct seismic surveys in Sherwood Forest – the first step towards fracking – but also their proposals to put at least one test drill into the forest. We will be fighting this all the way.

Groups and organisations mobilising against INEOS

And it’s not just Sherwood Forest: INEOS’s licences stretch across a huge swathe of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. In the tiny village of Marsh Lane, north Derbyshire, hundreds of people have been mobilising against INEOS’s proposed test drill on Bramleymoor Lane.

Another new group has sprung up down the road in the village of Harthill, where INEOS has proposed a second test well.

We’ve been meeting with the groups and offering our support.

Join the fight against INEOS 

Meanwhile, other organisations have lent a hand in exposing INEOS’s plans.

Spinwatch has revealed the company’s ambitions to carry out seismic surveys on publicly-owned parish allotments, playgrounds and war memorials – but so far, not a single parish council has let them do so.

Greenpeace’s Investigations Unit has shown that INEOS has also targeted the National Trust, which is refusing to give them access to their property at Clumber Park.

And we’ve exposed that INEOS has been threatening various other large private estates in the East Midlands with legal action if they don’t let them onto their land.

Not even Nottinghamshire County Council has escaped INEOS’s attention.

The council has postponed a decision on letting the fracking firm conduct surveys in public parks and woodlands until a committee of councillors meets on 24 April.

What next in the campaign against fracking?

We’ll continue to expose INEOS’s fracking ambitions – and continue working closely with local residents and Frack Free groups to support them in resisting.

If you live in the area, be sure to check out our map of INEOS’s activities and please get involved in the campaign!

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Campaigners and local residents hand in a petition to Defra against fracking in Sherwood Forest