Fibbing by Friends of Earth with false fracking claims will make Scot-Govt’s final public consultation on shale gas worthless

Tom Pickering
Tom Pickering

Petro-chemicals giant INEOS – which owns and operates the Grangemouth oil refinery – has today welcomed the decision of the UK Advertising Standards Authority that claims made by the Friends of the Earth misled the public about the safety of shale-gas fracking.

The ruling comes after an exhaustive 14-month investigation found that Friends of the Earth (FOE) could not substantiate a number of scare stories.

Tom Pickering, INEOS Shale Operations Director, said: “The false claims have formed the heart of the FOE’s wrongheaded opposition to fracking and we are pleased to see the record corrected.

“INEOS is always happy to debate on the facts and answer any questions and concerns that members of the public or groups may have. However, as today’s ruling has made clear Friends of the Earth have been spreading false information and misleading the public about this important issue.

“For too long Friends of the Earth, and their Scottish counterparts Friends of the Earth Scotland, have been wilfully misleading the public on fracking to fulfil their anti-fossil fuel agenda. Hopefully this ruling will be a lesson to those organisations but more importantly give the public cause to reflect on the duplicity they have been subjected to by Friends of the Earth.”

The Advertising Standards Authority found that Friends of the Earth was unable to support claims that chemicals used in fracking were dangerous to humans and that a US fracking site caused an increase in asthma and that the public in Britain would be a similar risk if they lived near to a fracking site. FOE adverts that also claimed falling house prices and risks of cancer were as a result of fracking would also not be allowed to be run again.

Pickering added: “We have previously offered to meet with Friends of the Earth, and also Friends of the Earth Scotland, to have a grown-up science based discussion of the issues around shale gas extraction but unsurprisingly neither organisation wishes to engage with us.

“We will continue, however, to try to make this meeting happen as our energy and manufacturing sectors are too important to allow fake facts to influence the debate. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with all parties based on the true realities of shale gas.

INEOS is currently progressing with surveys to evaluate the geology and gas potential of its sites across England. It is also planning the next stages of its extensive community consultation programme.

Partly in response to the ‘fear and ignorance’ campaign conducted by Friends of the Earth, the minority SNP Scottish Government imposed a ‘temporary’ moratorium on shale gas drilling operations – including exploratory-only  test-drills to ascertain the scale of the Scottish shale resources – in January 2015.

Since then, the independent scientific review of the evidence by the Scot-Govt’s own experts concluded – for the second time – that shale gas exploration could be safely carried out onshore in the Central Belt, where INEOS holds exploration licences from the UK government.

Subsequently, Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Energy Minister threw these expert findings into the ‘court of public opinion’ in a final public ‘consultation’.

As a result of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling that Friends of the Earth widely mis-led the public, any Scottish public consultation ‘findings’ that oppose onshore shale gas exploration will be factually ‘polluted’ as a result of the spurious FoE claims.

See also: –

UK onshore oil and gas industry welcomes withdrawal of false fracking claims by Friends of the Earth

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