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National Trust Faces Vast Bill Over Anti-Fracking Stance

The Times

The National Trust is facing a High Court challenge likely to cost it hundreds of thousands of pounds over its refusal to allow fracking tests for shale gas on one of its country estates.

The government Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has given Ineos leave to take legal action after the trust rejected repeated requests by the fracking company for permission to carry out seismic surveys in the Clumber Park estate in Nottinghamshire.

Ineos has accused the trust of adopting “overly and overtly political” opposition to fracking. The company believes that billions of pounds’ worth of gas could be trapped in rocks under the 3,800-acre estate, the former country home of the Dukes of Newcastle.

Ineos applied to the OGA for permission to take the trust to court to exercise its powers under the Mines Act 1966 to conduct surveys on land without the landowner’s permission. The authority has now agreed that Ineos has a prima facie case. The OGA reminded the trust that it was government policy to support shale exploration and Ineos needed to do the survey to assess the area’s potential.

Lynn Calder, commercial director of Ineos Shale, said: “Legal action has been the last resort . . . We have addressed a variety of stakeholder concerns in the past and are sorry the National Trust wouldn’t even have discussions with us in this case owing to a political objection to shale gas.”

Ms Calder added that the High Court case would “cost the trust hundreds of thousands of pounds on the basis of a political platform on the use of fossil fuels, which we do not believe is the remit of the trust”.

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