Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust delighted at Nottinghamshire County Council's decision to refuse an extension for the use of the shale gas site at Misson Carr

Representatives from an environmental charity have spoken of their delights after Nottinghamshire County Council refused to extend the use of a shale gas site in Bassetlaw.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 11:01 am

Councillors rejected an application yesterday to extend the use of the Mission Springs site, which has been subject to shale gas tests until 2019 after Nottinghamshire County Council approved plans in 2016.

The initial application was for exploration work only, giving permission for a hydrocarbon well-site and for up to two boreholes to be drilled – one vertically and one horizontally.

Work began on the site, which is close to the Misson Carr Nature Reserve, in November 2017 under four phases, with the first two phases completed in 2019.

Campaigners set up banners and held protests against the use of the site at Misson Springs.

The site was then ‘mothballed’, meaning equipment was removed and the site left unused but kept in a good condition ahead of future phases.

However, the original planning conditions set on the application meant its use for that purpose expired in November 2020.

No tests have taken place on the site since May 2019, when applicants Island Gas Ltd confirmed it had found a “world-class gas resource”.

The applicant had hoped it would be able to press forward with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the future.

But a Government moratorium issued in November 2019 ruled out giving consent for fracking until the industry provides “compelling new evidence” of its benefits.

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Speaking after the council’s planning meeting at which she gave a verbal report, Janice Bradley, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s head of nature recovery (North), said: “We’ve long stood shoulder to shoulder with campaigners and the local community to protect the wildlife of Misson Carr SSSI from operations designed to unlock huge reserves of fossil fuels, so we are delighted that sense has prevailed with today’s decision by councillors.

The trust, which has been fighting the development alongside local residents and campaigners for the past seven years recognised that councillors had a difficult decision to make in a finely balanced planning case but was pleased wider impacts on wildlife and the environment were considered along with obvious disruption and uncertainly for local people.

Janice said: “It is reassuring that issues such as impacts on rare species in a protected nature reserve of national importance, the strain and uncertainty for local residents, and the deepening climate and ecological crises were given real weight in the committee’s discussions.

"All too often in planning decisions, commercial interests win out over the needs of communities and our shared environment, so today is definitely a good day for everyone who cares about nature and wants to see a wilder Nottinghamshire in the future.”

The trust has opposed the shale gas exploration at Misson Springs due to concerns over potential disturbance to rare breeding birds and the risks of pollution and other impacts on the site’s delicate ecosystems and fragile hydrology.

IGas had argued that they should be given more time in the hope that the Government would remove their moratorium on all fracking activities.

The trust, which took over the care and management of Misson Carr 20 years ago, stands prepared to fight any future moves to access massive stores of fossil fuels on the site.