Peel Holdings

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The Peel Group (commonly known by its former name Peel Holdings) is a private real estate, media, transport and infrastructure investment company in the UK. Its collective investments owned and under management of more than £5 billion.

It has been described as 'the biggest company you've never heard of'. [1]Peel's extensive real estate assets consists of 850,000 square metres (9 million square feet) of investment property and over 13,000 hectares (33,000 acres) of land.

Main divisions

According to their own description:

The Peel Group is one of the leading property and transport companies in the UK with assets valued at over £4.5bn. Within its four divisions the businesses include:
The Trafford Centre, an award winning regional shopping and leisure complex
Peel Land & Property, owners of substantial property investment, development and land assets.
Peel Ports, operators of the ports of Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Clydeport and the Manchester Ship Canal
Peel Airports, operators of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Durham Tees Valley Airport, Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield and City of Manchester Airport.
Peel is also a major investor in UK Coal.[2]

Meetings with ministers

In March 2011 Peel Holdings met with Charles Hendry, (former) Minister of State, for an 'energy policy' discussion. [3]

In February 2011 The Peel Group met with Vincent Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to 'discuss business'. [4]

Fracking interests

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

Peel has been working with one of the UK's largest fracking firms IGas on three sites in the north west – Barton Moss, Ellesmere Port and Ince – where exploratory holes have been drilled and shale gas discovered. [5]

According to the Salford Star in February 2014,

Peel Holdings, or the Peel Group, not only own Barton Moss Road but all the fields surrounding it, including the iGas drilling site, and Barton Airport where the police are based during operations, drawing rent off all of them. It now appears that the company... is preparing to evict anti-fracking campaigners.

In July 2014 a report commissioned by IGas and Peel Environmental claimed that drilling for gas could boost the economies of Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Liverpool and Warrington by £10bn and 3500 jobs, assuming 300 wells were drilled from 2017-2021. It predicted the first three production wells would be sunk by 2017. [6]

In 2015 the company announced its intention to enter the fracking market with a new division named Peel Gas & Oil. Managing director Myles Kitcher, (also the director of Peel Environmental), described the emerging onshore shale gas sector as 'a golden opportunity for the UK and the North in particular':

There is a growing momentum in this region, with the Government announcing the new National College for Onshore Oil & Gas, based in Blackpool and linked to the University of Chester. We are ideally placed to become a regional hub for the industry drawing on existing assets, such as the Manchester Ship Canal and thriving ports, and the wealth of expertise businesses in the area have to offer. This could help transform the regional economy, unlocking a projected £10bn investment and over 3500 jobs in the development of shale gas resources in the North West region alone. We need to act quickly to get a thriving supply chain in place, ready to benefit from the emerging industry.

Fracking risks 'overstated'

Kitcher unsurprisingly believes the dangers of fracking have been 'overstated'. In 2015 he said: "We've looked at the evidence and we believe the case has been made for the safe and responsible extraction of shale gas. It's one of the most highly regulated industries in the world and the risks can be managed satisfactorily." [5]

Trial to treat water from the Manchester Ship Canal to be used in fracking

In March 2017 Peel Gas & Oil's commercial strategy manager Tony Smith gave a presentation at the annual UK Onshore Oil and Gas: Policy, Planning and Future Developments entitled: "Water from the Manchester Ship Canal – a trial to determine shale gas application". The blurb for the talk was as follows:

Peel Gas & Oil, part of the Peel Group, has an interest in facilitating shale gas development and being an integral part of the shale gas supply chain. The Peel Group is a major private investor in land and infrastructure primarily in the North of England. One of the core assets is the Manchester Ship Canal which is partially situated within PEDL 184 and 190. In conjunction with technical partners, Peel commissioned an industrial scale water trial to determine if abstracted, filtered and uv treated water from the Canal could produce water in a quantity and of a quality that was appropriate for industrial processes including hydraulic fracturing. This presentation reviews the operation of the trial and describes headline water quality results and positive implications of using ‘industrial’ water in the emerging UK shale gas industry. [7]

Lobbying consultancies

Undermining democracy?

In November 2007:

Peel commissioned Aspect Market Research to call people in Mr Jones' Irlam ward about the controversial congestion charging plan. Voters were also phoned in the parliamentary constituencies of Salford MP Hazel Blears, Stretford and Urmston MP Beverley Hughes and Bolton West MP Ruth Kelly.
The research - which targeted 300 people - suggested 60 per cent of people who voted for Mr Jones at the last election would not vote for him again if he introduced the congestion charge. In January, Peel met with members of the Liberal Democrat Party and the Community Action Party to discuss congestion charging. During that meeting the results of the market research were discussed. At the meeting Peel's property director Mike Butterworth asked them if they wanted to `dance with the devil.'
Mr Butterworth discussed how his company could help candidates standing in opposition to the Labour Party defeat councillors who were backing the congestion charge.
He said at the meeting: "I'd like to explain our position - and then you can consider to what extent you are prepared to dance with the devil? The forthcoming elections are a big opportunity. What can we do to help you guys?"
Mr Jones, the Labour Party candidate, lost his seat to the Community Action Party, coming a poor third behind the Tories. As a result, Mr Jones - seen by many as the public face of the congestion charge - automatically lost his GMPTA post. A month before the local elections, the GMPTA passed a resolution to ask the Electoral Commission to investigate Peel's actions in relation to `promoting or discouraging a candidate.'
The transport bosses asked Barbara Spicer, chief executive of Salford council, to refer their concerns because of her position as election returning officer for the borough. She wrote to the Electoral Commission, who said that it did not fall under their jurisdiction, but was the responsibility of the police. Mrs Spicer wrote to Greater Manchester Police to ask if there were grounds to investigate. Officers have now decided the matter does warrant further investigation.
Chief Supt Kevin Mulligan, head of Salford police said: "Officers are investigating whether an offence has been committed under the Representation of the People's Act 1983. We have liaised with the Special Casework Directorate of the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate the circumstances of this matter. Inquiries are continuing." Under the Act, third parties can legally spend money promoting or disparaging specific candidates in local elections up to a value of £50 plus half a pence per elector.
This limit only applies after a person is formally declared a candidate, which in the case of Mr Jones was in March. If money was spent before that date but information derived from the expenditure was used after, then it still counts towards the limit. The police inquiry will look at whether Peel went over the limit in the key period in the run- up to the vote and whether what Peel did is, or isn't, in breach of electoral law.
M.E.N. Media has found no evidence that Peel spent any money or used information acquired as a result of earlier expenditure during the restricted period which began in mid-March this year.
Mrs Spicer said: "The role of the Returning Officer is an important one in the democratic process and must be carried out without bias and with the utmost of integrity. Therefore as this investigation has not concluded it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "We have had preliminary discussions with the police."
After liaising with the CPS, it is the police who decide whether a matter warrants further investigation. Police would then prepare a file and the CPS would decide if any action should be taken.
Peel said: "No formal allegations have currently been made against Peel Holdings. We strongly refute that we have in any way breached electoral law and will welcome the opportunity to discuss any specific concerns raised by the GMPTA.
"Salford police told us on July 10 they do not know whether they will wish to speak to us directly regarding the GMPTA's concerns regarding pre-election activity in the Salford Irlam ward. In the event they ask to speak to us, we will work with them fully and openly at all times.
"In November 2007, we commissioned a survey by an independent market research company, bound by the Market Research Society's Code of Practice, to help us understand public perceptions on congestion charging in the constituencies and wards of several key political figures in the region.
"Our position on congestion charging is a matter of public record. Survey results were shared with central government to discuss perceptions of road charging proposals for Greater Manchester late in January 2008. In a routine meeting with two political parties in January 2008 - part of a series of meetings with councillors from all parties and several boroughs - we acknowledge that director Mike Butterworth used some inappropriate language in good humour, however we strongly refute any breach of electoral law.
"The remarks do not in any way reflect company policy or the spirit in which we operate. We neither support, fund nor campaign on behalf of any political party and have never done so.
"We are confident that we at no time breached the Representation of the People Act and will work with the police, if need be as well as taking any necessary steps to protect our reputation."[9]




External resources




  1. Independent
  2. Peel Group, accessed 14 August 2008
  3. Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ministerial meetings with outside interests, 1 Jan - 31 Mar 2011
  4. Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ministerial meetings with outside interests, 1 Jan - 31 Mar 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 [ Peel 'aiming to create fracking hub'], Peel Gas and Oil, 9 March 2015, accessed May 2016
  6. Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, July 2014
  7. UK Onshore Oil and Gas: Policy, Planning and Future Developments, The Studio Birmingham, 29 March 2017
  8. Lexington Communications profile 2016, Registrar of consultant lobbyists, accessed 3 May 2016
  9. Police probe Peel over election Salford Advertiser, 14/ 7/2008, accessed 14 August 2008
  10. Association of Professional Political Consultants. APPC Register Entry, 1 Jun - 31 Aug 2011
  11. 5. Association of Professional Political Consultants. APPC Register Entry, 1 Dec 2011 - 29 Feb 2012