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


One thought on “Will they frack Sherwood Forest?

  1. Only Solutions LLP Post author

    I note at http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/thecouncil/democracy/planning/fracking-shale-gas/latest-news/ we read: Island Gas Limited (IGas) has submitted an application seeking planning permission to install monitoring boreholes on land off Springs Road, to the north-east of Misson in Bassetlaw, which is close to the Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire local government boundary.

    The proposed development would involve the drilling of up to 12 boreholes across four locations, to monitor groundwater. The drilling would be undertaken over a period of up to two weeks in each location, and would take place between 07:00 and 19:00 with no drilling on weekends or Bank Holidays.

    In May a scoping request was submitted by Island Gas Limited to Nottinghamshire County Council for exploratory shale gas drilling, in relation to the same site.

    The planning application for the monitoring boreholes is associated with exploratory shale gas drilling, and would help establish existing groundwater conditions. The boreholes would be monitored for a period of at least 12 months, and may be required for a longer period depending on the outcome of any future exploratory drilling application.

    Sally Gill, Planning Manager from Nottinghamshire County Council says: “The Infrastructure Act 2015 includes a requirement for the level of methane in groundwater to be monitored for a period of 12 months before any associated hydraulic fracturing – which would require a separate planning application – can begin.

    “The proposed development would assist IGas in collecting the necessary monitoring information”.

    The monitoring borehole application has now passed through the validation process. The development has been advertised and statutory bodies and relevant local organisations have been consulted.

    There is also the opportunity for the public to comment by visiting the County Council’s planning website at http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/planningsearch/plandisp.aspx?AppNo=F/3321 , emailing development.management@nottscc.gov.uk or by writing to Nottinghamshire County Council, Development Management, County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7QP.


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