Wildlife Trust urges councillors to turn down fracking extension near Misson Carr Nature Reserve
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is calling on councillors to reject a planning extension for shale gas exploration close to Misson Carr Nature Reserve, deeming the move ‘unacceptable’.
Hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking' is a controversial practice which aims to extract gas or oil from shale rock by drilling deep holes.
In 2018, IGas Energy drilled an exploratory well less than 130 metres from the nature reserve at Misson Springs and found shale gas.
But any fracking of the site was put on hold when the Government announced a shale gas fracking moratorium the following year.
The exploratory well was due to be removed and fully restored by November 2020 but IGas Energy has since applied for a three-year extension to delay the restoration.
There is a possibility fracking could take place on the site if the extension is approved and the moratorium is lifted.
Speaking on behalf of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, head of nature recovery, Janice Bradley, said: "Together with many local residents and campaigners we have opposed the shale gas exploration at Misson Springs since day one.
"We have real concerns about the potential disturbance to rare breeding birds and the risks of pollution and other impacts on the site's delicate ecosystems and fragile hydrology.
"With a moratorium in place, we feel that this application should be refused so that the risk of disturbance to wildlife and to this protected nature reserve can finally be drawn to a close.
"We are in the midst of an ecological and climate crisis, so to even countenance fracking, which would both increase greenhouse gas emissions and potentially damage a site that is nationally important for its wildlife, is wholly unacceptable.
"IGas have been extremely bullish about the prospects of the moratorium being lifted which means that they are either being disingenuous or have an inside track on the Government's thinking."
Ann-Marie Wilkinson. director of corporate affairs at IGas Energy, said the company was ‘not doing anything at the site that might impact the environment’.
"IGas is committed to protecting the environment and we comply with applicable biodiversity protection laws and regulations,” she said.
"At the Springs Road site, a number of Hibernaculums were installed at multiple locations across the site providing a suitable habitat for both snakes and lizards.
"Areas of the site not used during the operation were developed into meadows for habitats to support rabbits, foxes, raptors and owls which were regularly spotted both during and after operations on the site.
“In complying with the strict planning and permit conditions for the site, we undertook groundwater monitoring, air quality monitoring, noise monitoring and significant work on both noise and light mitigation, water level monitoring in local ditches and demonstrated we had no discernible impact on the air quality, groundwater levels or groundwater quality in the catchment area, including the nearby SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).”
Sarah Gill, group manager for planning for Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "Nottinghamshire County Council is currently considering the planning application from IGas to extend the period of time within which the site has to be restored.
"The representation from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is one of many we have received and the application will be determined by councillors at a meeting of the planning and licensing committee in due course. No decisions have been made.”