Fears over Sherwood Forest ‘fracking plans’

The Major Oak in all its glory, United Kingdom on 7 August 2016. Photo by Glenn Ashley Photography
The Major Oak in all its glory, United Kingdom on 7 August 2016. Photo by Glenn Ashley Photography
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Anti-fracking campaigners are calling on the Government to intervene after it emerged that fracking firm Ineos plans to carry out seismic surveys in Sherwood Forest - within metres of the ancient Major Oak.

A recent Freedom of Information request from Friends of the Earth revealed that Ineos, a chemical firm which has licences to look for shale under huge swathes of Nottinghamshire, has plans to undertake initial drilling under the ancient forest - famed for its association with legendary outlaw Robin Hood.

Tom Pickering operations director of INEOS Shale.

Tom Pickering operations director of INEOS Shale.

The firm has stated that no decision had yet been made on whether exploratory drilling will go ahead under the national nature reserve, adding “any decision to position a well site will take into account environmental features such as the Major Oak”.

Tim Pickering, Ineos shale operations director, said: “Potentially we in the UK have a huge supply of indigenous gas under our own feet. It would be simply crazy not to explore this natural resource.”

However, protesters have called for the government to protect the forest.

Greg Hewitt, of Frack Free Nottinghamshire, said: “This will not just a local issue, but a national and even international one too.

“People all over the world know of Robin Hood and will show solidarity in the fight against fracking in this beautiful area of Nottinghamshire.”

A walk and rally have been organised for Saturday, January 7, meeting at 1pm at Sherwood Forest Visitors’ Centre to protest the plans.

There is currently no commercial fracking in the UK, but some firms, like Ineos, do hold licences.

Nottinghamshire County Council says reports of possible fracking in the forest are “without foundation”.

Sally Gill,council head of planning, said the local authority has not received any planning applications for shale gas development which involve fracking, or for any oil or gas extraction in or near Sherwood Forest Country Park.

She said: “Our world famous Sherwood Forest Country Park, which is also home to the Major Oak and many other ancient oaks, is a site of special scientific interest, a special area of conservation and is part of the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.

“Conservation of its ecology and natural habitats are paramount and the council will do everything in its power to ensure its heritage and conservation is protected now and for future generations.”

She said any planning applications for shale gas development made in Nottinghamshire would be widely publicised and consulted on before any decisions are made.