Dozens set to protest Sherwood Forest fracking test 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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Campaigners are set to descend on Sherwood Forest at the weekend to oppose plans to test for shale gas.

Anti-fracking campaigners will hold a rally on Saturday January 7, after it emerged that chemical giant Ineos plans to carry out seismic surveys in the area, sparking concerns about the environmental impact on the ancient forest.

Tom Pickering operations director of INEOS Shale.

Tom Pickering operations director of INEOS Shale.

According to a Facebook page advertising the event, organised by Friends of the Earth, at least 200 people have already pledged to attend.

Protesters will meet at Sherwood Forest Visitors Centre before walking through the country park.

Ineos has licences to look for shale under huge swathes of Nottinghamshire and could be working within 200 metres of the famous Major Oak, Friends of the Earth say.

The firm’s shale operations director, Tom Pickering, said the firm is preparing to carry out seismic imaging surveys across the East Midlands which includes part of Sherwood Forest.

He said: “This process does not include fracking in any form. Seismic imaging involves transmitting soundwaves into the earth and recording the corresponding soundwaves reflected back to the surface. The data acquired helps us understand the subsurface layers and fracture systems and determine potential drilling locations from a geological perspective. Further analysis of surface constraints is required before a drilling site can be considered suitable.”

He added: “INEOS believes that energy provision is currently a key issue for the UK. As we close our coal and nuclear power stations, we will need to find environmentally friendly alternatives if we want to keep our homes warm and the lights on.”

Nottinghamshire County Council say 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.

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

Greg Hewitt, campaigner for 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.”