Plans are being made for fracking to take place under Sherwood Forest where an ancient oak stands where according to legend Robin Hood and his merry men rested.
Ineos, one of the world’s biggest chemicals company, is poised to start looking for gas under Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, in a move which could lead to it seeking permission to frack the area.
So are plans being made to start fracking, or is Ineos looking for gas? Which is it?
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.
The Government has committed to fast tracking permissions for exploratory work amid forecasts that trillions of cubic feet of shale gas may be recoverable from underneath parts of the UK.
Fracking is not the same as exploratory work, which takes the form (at this stage) of seismic surveys which do not involve drilling.
Documents show Ineos – via their land surveyors, Fisher German – have been in correspondence with the Forestry Commission since August 2016, regarding access to their land.
Access in order to drill? No.
If these plans progress, Ineos’ seismic surveys would pass within a few hundred yards of the Major Oak, a 1,000-year-old tree near the village of Edwinstowe.
Pass within? These people have no idea what form a seismic survey takes, do they?
According to local folklore, it was Robin Hood’s shelter where he and his merry men slept and hid from the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 15th century.
In a 2002 survey, it was voted “Britain’s favourite tree”.
Information The Daily Telegraph considers more important to impart to its readers than the differences between carrying out a seismic survey and drilling a well.
Guy Shrubsole, a Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Is nothing sacred? By hunting for shale gas in Sherwood Forest, Ineos is sticking two fingers up at England’s green heritage, all in the pursuit of profit.
“The public wants to protect their English countryside and prefers renewable energy, not dirty shale gas, which will only add to climate change.”
And on the last day of 2016 a self-appointed expert declared what the public wanted, a practice which hitherto seemed doomed following high-level episodes of catastrophic wrongness regarding Brexit and Donald Trump.
Ineos confirmed that it was looking to start work in Sherwood Forest but insisted that great care would be taken to protect the Major Oak.
Tom Pickering, Ineos’s Shale operations director, said: “Any decision to position a well site will take into account environmental features such as the Major Oak and the planning process would also consider those issues.”
No decision on fracking under Sherwood Forest had yet been taken, he said, adding that Ineos would “undertake an extensive exploratory programme of seismic data acquisition across our wider licence area to better understand the subsurface geology including the fracture systems”.
Asked how Ineos would protect the trees of Sherwood Forest, Mr Pickering added: “When we do drill a vertical ‘coring’ well in the area, there are many general and specific environmental protections in place and we will of course abide by them.”
There was a time when journalists asked difficult questions that forced companies to reveal information that had hitherto been kept hidden. Nowadays, journalists ask questions which can be answered by a cursory ready of a company’s website.