Sherwood Forest fracking fears prompt protest

Protestors in Sherwood Forest
Image caption Protestors gathered on Saturday in the ancient woodland

Hundreds of people have taken part in a protest against plans to survey Sherwood Forest for shale gas.

Chemicals giant Ineos wants to inspect part of the ancient Nottinghamshire forest to see if there is potential for fracking.

Protestors fear the surveys could lead to fracking in the forest or on on land in nearby Edwinstowe.

Thoresby Estate, which owns the site, had already said it will not agree to any shale gas well heads on its land.

What is fracking and why is it controversial?

The surveys came to light in Forestry Commission documents, which Friends of the Earth received under the Freedom of Information Act.

Pauline Meechan, from Frack Free Sherwood and Edwinstowe, said: "If there is enough awareness and understanding of the long term problems associated with this whole [shale gas] industry, then people may well start to put pressure on government to say 'we don't want you backing this'."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sherwood Forest has more than 1,000 veteran oak trees including The Major Oak

The government gave Ineos licences to explore for shale gas on a million acres of land across the UK.

As part of this, the company wants to carry out seismic imaging surveys at Sherwood Forest and other locations.

It said it was "exploring the viability" of shale gas across the country and its seismic imaging surveys "do not include fracking in any form".

The RSPB, which will manage the entire Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve from 2018, opposes fracking but does not object to seismic imaging surveys in principle.

The conservation charity said surveys must be done in a way that did not disturb breeding birds.

Who owns and manages Sherwood Forest?

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Major Oak was Robin Hood's hideout, according to folklore
  • Sherwood Forest originally stretched from Sheffield to Nottingham and was the legendary home of Robin Hood
  • It is now much smaller than it used to be and is separated by roads, towns and farms.
  • Part of the remaining woodland is designated as Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (NNR), which covers 1,050 acres of land and is owned by Thoresby Estate
  • Sherwood Forest Country Park is a 450-acre country park within this and is managed by Nottinghamshire County Council
  • Thoresby Estate currently leases this land to the council so that it can manage Sherwood Forest Country Park
  • Part of the land within the NNR is also leased to the Forestry Commission and both Thoresby Estate and the Forestry Commission would have to agree for seismic surveys to be carried out there
  • From spring 2018, the entire NNR will be managed by the RSPB
  • The wider Sherwood Forest has a range of different private and public landowners, which include the Forestry Commission

Source: Nottinghamshire County Council and Thoresby Estate

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