Greenpeace: Landowners can work together to block fracking 'trespass'

Campaigners change tack in fight against fracking

Householders are being urged to block plans for widescale fracking in Britain by denying permission for drilling companies to extract oil and gas from underneath their homes.

Environmental group Greenpeace is calling on local residents who oppose shale gas or oil exploitation near them to join together to assert, what they claim, are common law rights to forbid the “trespass” of energy firms from conducting activities below their property.

The legal challenge, which was launched in Preston, Lancashire, was joined by residents from the Fylde and campaigners from Balcombe, West Sussex, who have been fighting Cuadrilla over energy exploration close to their communities.

Lawyers for Greenpeace claim that a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 in which Mohammed Al-Fayed sought a share of the proceeds from an energy firm after it drilled for oil under his Surrey estate paves the way for mass action by concerned citizens.

Five justices rejected the former Harrods owners’ demands for compensation and damages but unanimously upheld the claim of trespass.

Environmentalists said that ordinary homeowners must give their permission before horizontal drilling - which could see gas removed from under their land - can begin close by and claimed that the industry is planning to ride roughshod over individual rights in the dash to recover oil and gas

However, the industry group representing operators described the challenge as “extremely misleading”. The UK Onshore Operators Group said in a statement: “Operators in this country are abiding by the law, which states that activities at depths of over a mile under the ground do not impact landowners. However, in line with the law, operators will inform all landowners in a very clear and transparent manner.”

Under UK law, underground resources are the property of the Crown. The Government is in the process of issuing a 14 round of licences for petrochemicals which campaigners say will cover two thirds of England. Green groups fear it could lead to mass industrialisation of the countryside whilst polluting water and air around exploration sites.

A moratorium on fracking activities – which involves fracturing gas-rich shale rock with water, sand and chemicals - was lifted in 2012 following concerns over two seismic events around Blackpool.

The Government remains keenly committed to exploiting unconventional energy reserves. This summer the British Geological Survey estimated 130 trillion cubic feet of shale gas could be recoverable onshore, mainly from across the north of England - the equivalent of 40 years of UK supplies.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Anna Jones however said fracking was a "desperate ploy" by the Government to keep the UK hooked on fossil fuels.

She said: "Fracking is risky for local environments, risky for our water supplies and risky for the global climate. People are right to stand up and say 'not under my land you don't'."

Andrew Pemberton, a Lancashire dairy farmer said he was worried for the ecology of the Fylde near Blackpool and would be joining the protest. "I'm supplying milk to 3,000 households, and if for any reason my water became contaminated, my business would be ruined and my livelihood destroyed, as well as the livelihoods of the 16 families who work for me. Fracking is dangerous and short-sighted. We should be keeping this gas in the ground,” he said.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla CEO, said: "This country pioneered subsurface infrastructure. All of our existing subsurface underground rail, water, gas, telecommunications and electric development has historically succeeded in legal coexistence with surface property rights. Newer technology such as geothermal energy and carbon capture and storage will also have to negotiate this.”

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?