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Harrabin Ignores BBC Guidelines On Cooling Tower Images

November 13, 2014

By Paul Homewood




The BBC have been up to their usual, dishonest tricks again, with photos suggesting black smoke coming out of power station cooling towers.


Reader, Ron Hughes, has formally complained, and has received some helpful information from Colin Tregear, who works with the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit.

The Editorial Guidelines have a section on images, containing this specific guideline for accuracy:


Care should be taken not to use images to mislead the audience.


This could not be clearer, and it is difficult to see how the above picture does not mislead.


But the case of cooling tower images has already specifically been addressed in a BBC Trust finding on a Panorama programme in 2008. Below are the Trust’s findings:





The Trust noted that guidance had already been issued by BBC News on how to deal with footage of cooling towers:





So as well as requesting that extra care be taken, there was specific guidance not to use such photos in headlines, which, of course, has been deliberately breached in the current story.


The Trust, after considering all the facts, upheld the complaint.





So Roger Harrabin, or whoever put the report together for him, has clearly and blatantly breached both the specific guidelines issued, as well as the duty not to use images to mislead the audience.


It would be helpful if others registered formal complaints in future if they see similar images on BBC reports. The process is quite simple, and complaints can be made online here.

It would help to quote both the Editorial Guidelines here, and the specific BBC Trust ruling, quoting “Panorama: Comeback Coal, BBC One, 1 December 2008

  1. November 13, 2014 5:33 pm

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Everyone wants their arty shots of droplets of water (aka steam) coming from the towers to show pollution.

  2. Anoneumouse permalink
    November 13, 2014 5:50 pm

    Roger Harrabin is an A1 ‘churnalist’

  3. November 13, 2014 5:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    I wonder what proportion of our tax payer’s licence fee goes into funding the BBC propaganda (whoops environmental) unit? Whatever it is – it is too much!

  4. November 13, 2014 5:56 pm

    But does the picture depict a “cooling tower”?
    It would be nice to know exactly what it does depict.
    Having said that, the back lit image probably makes it misleading. whatever it is.

  5. November 13, 2014 6:09 pm

    The tower in the image is not a cooling tower but the exhaust flu.

    However, the exhaust looks far too dark to be real – which could be the lighting angle.

  6. November 13, 2014 6:16 pm

    The (UK) Clean Air Act prohibits the emission of visible particulates. That picture is almost certainly of colourless water vapour, and has visible impact suggesting pollution to the uninitiated, simply because it is back lit.

    This BBC image used to illustrate a different environmental story was published in October 2103:-

  7. Herve D permalink
    November 13, 2014 6:58 pm

    Britons, why do you still tolerate a state funded agency ciontinuing lying to population without restraint? Put their building on fire and call irish saboteurs to help !

  8. November 13, 2014 7:15 pm


    Good and useful summary of the problem (and inherent misrepresentation that so often goes on).

    One question: in the way the BBC operates, how likely is it that Harrabin is responsible for selecting a picture that that goes with the article?

    (It’s a genuine question: so often, for example, headlines do not reflect an article’s actual substance, but the article’s author is not in control of the headline – I was wondering if the same pertains to picture selection.)

  9. Harold Hughes permalink
    November 13, 2014 7:25 pm

    Dear Mr Homewood, These particular pics don’t look to me like cooling towers but like proper chimneys emitting real smoke. Cooling towers, to favour the thermodynamic processes they contain and encourage, have a quite distinctive shape and these don’t at all hav ethis shape but are ordinary vertical cylinders as chimneys mostly are. Having said that, may I assure you I’m an ardent reader of all your admirable posts which I find fascinating and very informative. And I’m most definitely a ‘denier’! Dr Harold Hughes (a chartered chemical engineer who’s operated a cooling tower)

    Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:19:48 +0000 To:

  10. November 13, 2014 8:56 pm

    Well, using tineye to search, the oldest version it found of this photo is listed as th 43016803 eggboroughplant pa 203b.jpg with an associated date of April 15 2008 in photobucket. Whether or not that is original …? But looking at the photo of Eggborough on wiki, there is a tower that looks like it and the cooling towers look a lot different.

  11. November 13, 2014 9:47 pm

    The BBC has a habit of using dubious images in relation to “climate change”, usually behind someone who is arguing against it.
    There is footage of a helicopter in a snowstorm which looks like it’s cgi from a feature film but I haven’t been able to identify it. Certainly nothing to do with climate change.

  12. saveenergy permalink
    November 13, 2014 9:58 pm

    That is a picture of a 3 flue Cylindrical concrete chimney as built in several power stations from the mid1960s onwards, such as Aberthaw, Drax, Eggborough…..

    Didcot was a 4 Flue -see pic –

    This is cooling towers …evaporating ……..water vapor –

    What a sad old git, I really must get out more !!!

  13. November 13, 2014 10:00 pm

    CO2 is transparant and odourless, Flue gasses are scrubbed for particles, and sulfur dioxide. The visible cloud is therefore water vapour. The picture is misleading, even if it is a flue-gas stack.

  14. John permalink
    November 13, 2014 10:16 pm

    Harrabin is dangerous
    The issue is we all fund him via the TVPollTax

  15. November 13, 2014 10:48 pm

    I thought I remembered a web article about this:

    Apparently it’s been photoshopped to adjust the contrast.

    • November 13, 2014 11:08 pm

      Pretty much a smoking gun … er, chimney stack. Pretty clear dead to rights what has been done.

  16. BLACK PEARL permalink
    November 14, 2014 9:23 am

    Wow its good to see this sort of free co operation
    Its sad to see that in 21st cent Britain, state funded propaganda exists on such a level
    It appears much of the rest of the media are complicit in this also :{

  17. Empeef permalink
    November 14, 2014 11:19 am

    The pic shows a flue stack or chimney if you prefer not cooling tower
    . As has been correctly pointed out scrubbers remove SO2 & electrostatic precipitators remove fly ash. There is no smoke because the boilers run at high temperatures ensuring almost complete (stoichiometric) combustion. When any hydrocarbon is burned water is produced & that’s what can be seen in the picture – rather like the con trail from a plane. Of course there will be CO2 & Nox (oxides of Nitrogen) within the flue gases, some power stations use urea to reduce Nox I don’t know if Eggborough does.

  18. November 14, 2014 5:13 pm

    So, what does it mean that the complaint is upheld? Does Harrabin get a note in his ‘personal record’?

    • TomO permalink
      November 15, 2014 12:01 am

      He gets thrashed senseless with a dead lettuce …. oh, wait – maybe the lettuce might not be required.

  19. Vernon E permalink
    November 15, 2014 12:44 pm

    I think the picture is a fake – a “montage”. If it was a stack gas from combustion the thermal content and the draught from the chimney would shoot the exhaust out a quite a rate so the exhaust is vertical at first. Only a very strong wind would force this horizontal so near the stack exit – this clearly isn ‘t the case here.

  20. John from Michigan permalink
    November 16, 2014 10:51 am

    This picture is a very badly photo-shopped job, not an original photo. Check out the “smoke” coming out at the top of the chimney. On both sides of the chimney, especially the left one, the “smoke” is coming out of the sides of the chimney — several inches below the top. In reality, the “smoke” would be coming out of the top of the chimney. This is an obvious fake.


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