Monthly Archives: August 2015

Will they frack Sherwood Forest?

As you will know, the government has just announced 27 new blocks of onshore oil and gas licences (which would allow fracking) including a number in Notts.

Of more significance for Sherwood Forest, they are consulting on a further 132 blocks which are within 10km of a European-listed wildlife site which therefore require an ‘Appropriate Assessment’. This seems to be something of a box-ticking exercise for the government. There are 7 blocks within 10km of the Birklands & Bilhaugh SAC (an area of ancient woodland around the Major Oak), most of which are in a potential shale gas area.

The recommendation on all blocks is to grant a license with no conditions allowing all stages from exploration to production, apart from not allowing drilling ‘at or near the surface’ within the SAC. (They would even allow seismic testing within the SAC and drilling/fracking beneath the SAC.)

The assessment seems to say that the SAC is just a load of old trees (I paraphrase) which need protecting. But there doesn’t even seem to be any interest in protecting associated birds (unlike for the S Pennine Moors SPA – where birds are a specific reason for European designation).

There also appears to be no consideration of SSSIs, groundwater source protection zones, etc, etc – presumably they would say these will be considered with planning and permitting decisions.

This means that within a few months we can expect almost the whole of Sherwood Forest to be licensed for fracking. Should we be concerned?

Details are linked from our website at:

Nigel Lee
Nottingham Friends of the Earth