So far 2016 has been the rollercoaster ride from Hell and we want to get off. Planet Earth is being thrown down an impending voyage of doom, and it is enduring an all too uncomfortable journey in the process. Records have been broken month on month for the highest global temperatures on record, Brexit leaves the UK’s conservation charities wondering where half of their funding will come from in the future, and Trump is now in charge of America, legitimizing a unified ignorance to climate change.
You might sigh, thinking that at least 2016 is nearly over, so we can soon sweep this mess of a year under the rug. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come: you are strapped in for a veritable rollercoaster of uncomfortable twists, and the next painful jerk is closer to home.
Island Gas Limited (IGas) have gained permission for shale gas exploration drilling in Nottinghamshire, but that’s not the best part. IGas have gained planning permission for shale gas exploration with the view for potential fracking, 125m away from a fragile nature reserve in Nottinghamshire.
“The area of concern, Misson Carr, has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 2003, providing a home for bats, birds and long eared owls, including red and amber listed species”
The first planning application for shale gas exploration next to the Site of Special Scientific Interest was submitted to the County Council last year. The area of concern, Misson Carr, has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 2003, providing a home for bats, birds and long eared owls, including red and amber listed species. The planned project involves the drilling of two exploratory gas wells: one drilled 3500m deep, and one horizontally, although the breadth of the drilling exploration is not clear. In addition to the exploratory drilling, it was also stated in the application that: “Hydraulic fracturing was not included in this application, but may be subject to future application”.
To sum this application up, IGas are going to carry out exploratory drilling in the immediate vicinity of a nature reserve in the preparation of potential fracking opportunities. This is unacceptable for reasons to be explained, and something needs to be done.
Given the well-supported evidence stating the negative impacts of drilling on wildlife, it is surprising that this plan was put forward in the first place, let alone approved by the County Council. Potential effects of drilling on ecosystems stem from the development of drilling sites right through to the ongoing disturbance that occurs.
“Noise pollution from drilling can be hugely disruptive for songbirds relying on tranquil reserves like Misson Carr to breed”
Mammal migration patterns for instance have been disrupted and habitat use reduced directly as a result of gas plant development, and it is likely that similar patterns will be observed in Misson Carr. Noise pollution from drilling can be hugely disruptive for songbirds relying on tranquil reserves like Misson Carr to breed. Without the ability to be heard singing for a mate, less breeding pairs form, and so less birds can successfully produce young to keep a population stable.
These are just a few of the endless issues that can hinder the survival and breeding success of wildlife, so it is no surprise that so many people are infuriated by the aims of Island Gas Limited.
Many members of the public were horrified over this application to allow shale gas exploration next to one of our most important reserves. To voice these concerns Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT), amongst other conservation bodies, undertook a lengthy reel of correspondence to discourage plans from going ahead.
“It was thought that potential impacts of the drilling weren’t even properly assessed during application, particularly regarding the impact on bird and bat species”
Janice Bradley, Head of Conservation for the Trust, voiced concerns over dust deposition, changes to the hydrological and hydrogeological regime, the risk of excess nitrogen and acid deposition, and in pollution from noise or otherwise. In addition to concerns underlined by NWT, it was thought that potential impacts of the drilling weren’t even properly assessed during application, particularly regarding the impact on bird and bat species, and the dangers from pollution, nitrogen and acid deposition, and noise disturbance.
Local campaigners as well as larger conservation charities have undergone a long and complicated fight to try and protect Misson Carr, but unfortunately the evidence provided was heeded with minimal sincerity. On the 15th November of this year, Nottinghamshire county council gave its approval for the company to begin exploratory work in preparation for potential hydraulic fracturing of shale gas.
So here we have it, the crescendo to a magnificently abysmal year: we bring to you fracking in the immediate vicinity of a fragile and valuable nature reserve in Nottinghamshire. If you have reached this far in the article, then first of all thank you, and secondly understand that finishing reading this article feeling disappointed in the council’s decision is not enough. The sense of disregard for a piece of nature that makes Nottinghamshire so beautiful needs to be acknowledged, and our County Council and MP, Graham Allen, need to hear us. Whilst planning has not yet been set in place for fracking in Nottinghamshire, we need to make it clear that we do not want it, and it will not be tolerated.
Letters, emails or general correspondence to:
Office of John Mann MP, Stanley Street, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S81 7HX