Misson Springs success - exploratory gas drilling extension refused

Misson Springs success - exploratory gas drilling extension refused

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust expresses delight at County Council’s decision to refuse application to extend restoration deadline for exploratory shale gas drilling site at Misson Springs

Locally based environmental charity Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has today spoken of its delight after Nottinghamshire County Council refused an application by IGas for an extension to the time allowed to restore the shale gas exploratory drilling site at Misson Springs, just 125 metres from the Charity’s Misson Carr Nature Reserve and SSSI, Nottinghamshire.

Speaking immediately after the Council’s Planning meeting at which she gave a verbal report, the Trust’s Head of Nature Recovery (North) Janice Bradley said:

“We’ve long stood shoulder to shoulder with campaigners and the local community to protect the wildlife of Misson Carr SSSI from operations designed to unlock huge reserves of fossil fuels, so we are delighted that sense has prevailed with today’s decision by Councillors.

Mission springs fracking protest

The Trust, which has been fighting the development alongside local residents and campaigners for the past seven years recognise that Councillors had a difficult decision to make in a finely balanced planning case but is pleased wider impacts on wildlife and the environment were considered along with obvious disruption and uncertainly for local people.

Janice explained: “It is reassuring that issues such as impacts on rare species in a protected nature reserve of national importance, the strain and uncertainty for local residents, and the deepening climate and ecological crises were given real weight in the Committee’s discussions. All too often in planning decisions, commercial interests win out over the needs of communities and our shared environment, so today is definitely a good day for everyone who cares about nature and wants to see a wilder Nottinghamshire in the future.”

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust was one of a number of groups calling for the application by IGas for a 3-year license extension for an exploratory drilling site linked to fracking at Misson Springs to be rejected. The Trust, Frack Free Misson and Misson Parish Council all gave verbal reports outlining their concerns.

The Trust has opposed the shale gas exploration at Misson Springs since day one due to concerns over potential disturbance to rare breeding birds and the risks of pollution and other impacts on the site’s delicate ecosystems and fragile hydrology.

As well as highlighting the longstanding concerns over potential for disturbance to wildlife the Wildlife Trust directly challenged the applicant’s assertion that extending the licence would pose no increased risk for wildlife. Mrs Bradley explained that the Charity had invested significant resources to restore and enhance habitat at the site recently which were designed to encourage an even greater abundance and diversity of wildlife - meaning that future operations drilling operations were likely to have an even greater impact.

Today is definitely a good day for everyone who cares about nature and wants to see a wilder Nottinghamshire in the future.
Janice Bradley, Head of Nature Recovery (North)
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Key to securing the refusal was the argument that what started out as an application for a temporary operation back in 2014 with a promise of no future fracking, was in danger of becoming permanent installation with real potential of the site being used to frack huge deposits of shale gas discovered in rocks beneath the surface. The exploratory drilling well was due to be removed and fully restored by November 2020 and after considering the impact of extending this further councillors decided that the applicant has had sufficient time to complete the original operations and must therefore now complete the restoration as agreed.

IGas had argued that they should be given more time in the hope that the Government would remove their moratorium on all fracking activities, but councilors decided it was inappropriate to allow any further time given the uncertainty created by the moratorium.

IGas has publicly stated that it believes that the shale gas deposits available from the Bowland Shales beneath the area surrounding Misson Springs are of national significance, and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is concerned that any lifting of the moratorium could eventually lead to decades of risky and damaging activity in an extremely sensitive area. It is hoped that the decision that the site must be restored makes a future application to frack more difficult.

Misson Carr

Misson Carr Nature Reserve - Photo © Holly McCain

However, the Trust, which took over the care and management of Misson Carr 20 years ago this year, stands prepared to fight any future moves to access massive stores of fossil fuels that will inevitably drive further carbon emissions that drive climate change so close to a nationally protected wildlife site.