Welbeck Abbey joins list of Notts landowners in fracking firing line

This map by Friends of the Earth shows where private estates overlap with Ineos's planned survey areas - revealed by FOI request.
This map by Friends of the Earth shows where private estates overlap with Ineos's planned survey areas - revealed by FOI request.

Research of sites planned for pre-fracking tests has pinpointed Welbeck Abbey as the latest Notts landowner under pressure from frackers.

The 15,000-acre estate owned by William Parente, the former Sheriff of Nottingham, has confirmed it will be engaging with gas company Ineos to allow pre-fracking seismic surveys to read the geology and commercial viability of shale gas deposits miles underground.

The landowner follows the Thorsby Estate, which owns Sherwood Forest nature reserve, in opening up to the company for tests, as well as Chatsworth in Derbyshire although the National Trust, which owns Clumber Park, has stated it will resist the surveys.

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A spokesperson for the Welbeck Estate said: “Ineos can compel us to provide access for their survey and the law is currently weighted in their favour because the Government supports fracking.

"After much thought, we decided we needed to engage with them on this because that allows us to insist on significant additional measures to protect the environment. But it’s worth mentioning that the problem may not end there, because we now need to consult with lawyers and industry experts to establish how much say we have over whether or not wells are built on the estate.”

Activists at Friends of the Earth have developed a map of landowners affected by Ineos's planned pre-fracking surveys, revealed in an FOI to the Forestry commission. So far seismic survey areas (marked in dark red) fall on the land of six private owners. The main areas affected are:

Kings Clipstone Farm (light red)

Warsop Estate (purple)

Thorsby Estate including Sherwood Forest (blue)

Welbeck (orange)

National Trust land at Clumber Park (green)

Other unattributed land at Pleasley, Harow Wood, and Sherwood Pines - explore the map here.

Guy Shrubsole of the environmental group said: "Fracking poses risks to our environment, heritage and climate - and people across Nottinghamshire don't want it.

"Large landowners have a responsibility to their tenant farmers, to local communities and to the environment that they hold in trust. It's shocking that the Welbeck Estate and other local landowners are being compelled into letting INEOS onto their land when they have such misgivings.

"These estate have all been pushed by INEOS into allowing 'thumper trucks' onto their land to survey the area."

"Together, we need to stand up to this multinational chemicals firm and lock the gate against INEOS."

Ineos has stated previously it has licence to explore national resources, granting powers to take legal action if landowners don't submit to surveys.

Development boss Tom Pickering said in an Interview with the Chad: "There are provisions which prevent an owner from stopping it. It’s a national resource, we have a licence to develop it and we have a commitment to the government to explore that national resource. We haven't begun any legal proceedings and we'll continue to act reasonably to secure reasonably entry.

Thorsby Estate have submitted to formal requests to allow the drilling of test cores to examine the resources miles underground, but said they would 'never' allow fracking within the national nature reserve.

Owner of Welbeck Estate, Mr Parente inherited 62,000 acres of land in the East Midlands, including the 15,000-acres of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, when his aunt, Lady Anne Cavendish Bentinck died in 2008.

It's unknown if the Warsop Estate has received similar pressure to allow surveys to be undertaken - we have tried to approach the owners for comment but been unsuccessful.