The National Trust has withdrawn legal opposition to seismic surveys being carried out at Clumber Park – but will continue the fight against fracking at the site.
INEOS took the charity to the High Court earlier this year after demanding access to the Grade I registered site to search for shale gas.
The National Trust remains completely opposed to fracking at Clumber Park but, after extensive legal efforts and carefully considering all the evidence available, has taken the decision to withdraw its legal opposition to surveys at the site.
This case has shown how difficult it is to protect sites of special significance from applications by oil and gas companies hoping to search for shale gas.
Fracking firms can use the Mines Act 1966 to secure access rights to land. The grounds on which the owner of the land can object to this are very limited and depend on the circumstances at each property.
Andy Beer, National Trust’s Director of the Midlands, said: “Our position has not changed, we oppose fracking at Clumber Park.
“Despite our best efforts to explain why Clumber Park is so sensitive and such an inappropriate site, INEOS is intent on pursuing access to survey at the site.
“We think it is wrong that we, or any other landowner, should be compelled to admit surveys at a place as special and loved as this.
“Let me be clear though, Clumber Park comes first. And, as such, we have demanded that INEOS provides assurances that these surveys will not damage this special place, which is our main priority.
“We have a duty to ensure that the surveys are carried out in ways that absolutely minimise the risks of damaging wildlife, fragile habitats and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people to enjoy Clumber Park.
“It is important at this stage to make the distinction between carrying out seismic surveys to search for shale gas on the one hand, and fracking itself.
“We are still completely opposed to fracking at Clumber Park and will fight tooth and nail to protect the area.”
Clumber Park is recognised for its exceptional nature conservation and large parts of the site are designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Grade I registered Park and Garden.