A powerful group of landowners representing more than 32,000ha has voiced its opposition to fracking or shale gas extraction.
The group includes some of Britain’s best-known estates like Castle Howard, alongside other important north-eastern estates, such as Birdsall, Hovingham and Settrington.
A strongly worded letter published in North Yorkshire’s Malton Gazette & Herald newspaper said: “We would like to place on public record our opposition to fracking not just in Yorkshire, but everywhere.
“We do not accept the argument that fracked gas is needed for national energy security. We are not persuaded of the need for fracked gas as a source of cheap energy nor as a bridge fuel from coal.”
The signatories added that they were deeply concerned fracking would “industrialise an area of glorious countryside”, potentially cause air and water pollution and lead to a nuisance from extra HGV movements.
The letter also warned that landowners could be left with the liability of long-term legacy costs if anything went wrong.
It said: “Landowners have already been offered licence agreements, to allow seismic tests to be carried out on our land.
“But… after the fracking company has gone (and the licence expired), the landowner is left with the residual liability for any well.
“Imagine the cost if the casing [of the well bore] deteriorates and catastrophic water pollution then occurs. It could be devastating to all concerned (as well as whatever protection – eg insurance – might be put in place, after all possible proceeds have been exhausted), wherever in the vicinity you live.”
Ineos: Fracking will create jobs
The letter targets energy company Ineos, which has proposed a programme of seismic testing at sites for gas in deep shale rock.
An Ineos spokesman said that shale gas extraction would bring jobs and investment to the area.
Many of the signatories to the letter also wrote recently to The Times newspaper to express solidarity with the National Trust, which faces High Court action by Ineos to force access to the Trust’s land at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.
In September, the CLA called on the government to live up to its assurances on protection for landowners from the long-term liabilities of fracking.
The letter in full
As a group of land and business owners, we would like to place on public record our opposition to fracking not just in Yorkshire, but everywhere.
We do not accept the argument that fracked gas is needed for national energy security. We are not persuaded of the need for fracked gas as a source of cheap energy nor as a bridge fuel from coal.
We support the growth in renewables and efforts to improve energy efficiency.
We remain deeply concerned about an activity which would industrialise this area of glorious countryside, bringing potential air and water pollution, as well as HGV nuisance on already potholed roads (and that’s without mentioning the plastic which could be created, as Ineos does – exacerbating the plastic crisis that the world currently faces).
Landowners (of whatever acreage) in this PEDL area, which includes Malton and Norton, have already been offered licence agreements, with proposed schedules of payments, to allow seismic tests to be carried out on our land. This is a likely precursor to the siting of well pads for fracking.
But you may be surprised to read that after the fracking company has gone (and the licence expired), the landowner is left with the residual liability for any well. Imagine the cost if the casing deteriorates and catastrophic water pollution then occurs. It, like asbestosis, could be devastating to all concerned (as well as whatever protection – eg insurance – might be put in place, after all possible proceeds have been exhausted), wherever in the vicinity you live.
The National Trust has taken a stand and refused the industry access to carry out seismic surveys on their land at Clumber Park. Ineos, the fracking company there (as well as here), have just initiated legal action against the National Trust (The Times 22.2.18), which action we deplore.
We are taking the same, perfectly reasonable, stand – and encourage all landowners, of every type, shape and size here, to resist the blandishments of the fracking companies, and stand with us.
We expect this resistance to be supported by all our political representatives, specifically including our MP, as we lobby national government to dispense with this flawed policy.
(The Hon) Michael Benson (Westow)
Nick & Kate Bentley (Kirbymoorside)
Charles and Vanessa Charters (Barton Hill)
(Lady) Clarissa Collin (Nawton)
Fred Collin (Nawton)
(Rt.Revd) Graham Cray (Honorary Assistant Bishop Diocese of York, Kirby Misperton)
Richard (Viscount) Downe (Wykeham)
(The Hon) Jake Duncombe (Helmsley)
Owen Dukes (Acklam)
Gordon and Jessica Gunn (Kirbymoorside)
Stephen and Sarah Houlston (Great Barugh)
(The Hon) Nick Howard (Castle Howard)
Sarah Lear (Acklam)
Philip, Francis and Peter Megginson (Towthorpe)
Mick (Lord) Middleton (Birdsall)
(Prof Sir) Anthony Milnes Coates (Helperby)
Kate Patmore (Ryton)
Antony Porter (Helmsley)
John Robert Prest (Ryton)
Mark Preston (Burythorpe)
Roderick Robinson (Leavening)
Tim and Mary Scarff (Eddlethorpe)
Selina Scott (North Riding)
Kenelm and Karen Storey (Settrington)
(The Hon Sir) Richard Storey (Settrington)
Philip Tate (Butterwick)
(Dr) Tim Thornton (Middleton)
Matthew Trevelyan (Spaunton)
(Sir) William Worsley (Hovingham)
Stephen Mulryne (Terrington)
Charles (Lord) St Oswald (Oswaldkirk)
James and Rachel Fraser (Norton)