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Friends of the Earth admits false fracking claims

January 4, 2017

By Paul Homewood


h/t Joe Public




From the Times:


A green campaign group has agreed not to repeat misleading claims about the health and environmental impacts of fracking after complaints to the advertising watchdog.

Friends of the Earth spent more than a year trying to defend its claims, which were made in a fundraising leaflet, but has been forced to withdraw them.

The group’s capitulation is a victory for a retired vicar and a retired physics teacher who have been working for years to expose what they believe is scaremongering about a safe technique for extracting shale gas.

The Rev Michael Roberts and Ken Wilkinson complained about Friends of the Earth’s claims to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which also received a complaint from the fracking company Cuadrilla.

The authority found that Friends of the Earth (FoE) failed to substantiate claims that fracking could cause cancer, contaminate water supplies, increase asthma rates and send house prices plummeting.

The ASA produced its draft ruling in July but was forced to delay sending it to its council for approval because FoE repeatedly requested more time to challenge the findings. The group finally agreed not to repeat the claims in a deal with the ASA under which it has avoided having a formal ruling against it.

The ASA said: “We have told Friends of the Earth Trust Ltd and Friends of the Earth Ltd not to make claims about the likely effects of fracking on the health of local populations, drinking water or property prices in the absence of adequate evidence.”

Mr Wilkinson, who said that he had no connection with the fracking industry and was acting purely to ensure the public received accurate information, welcomed the ruling. “It is outrageous that FoE used false information to raise money,” he said. “We need a frank debate about fracking and its potential impacts but it should be based on facts, not scaremongering.”

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “FoE’s repeated falsehoods have been exposed as nothing more than scaremongering designed to frighten the public into giving it money. It is the unacceptable face of the charity sector.”

He called on the Charity Commission to take action against FoE, which he said had breached a previous commitment to the charity regulator to stop campaigning against fracking.

Cuadrilla is planning to start constructing a shale gas exploration site near Blackpool this month, with fracking due to start there in the autumn. In October the government overruled Lancashire county council, which had rejected Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack four wells at Preston New Road.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, which represents fracking companies, said that the ASA had consulted with “numerous independent scientific, health and regulatory experts before concluding that the anti-fracking myths perpetrated by Friends of the Earth were fundamentally false”.

He added: “The opponents of onshore oil and gas development must withdraw their scaremongering rhetoric and argue on the basis of the facts, which quite clearly show that the risks associated with fracking can be mitigated by the strong regulation and world-renowned best practice that we benefit from in the UK.”

FoE declined to respond directly to questions about its agreement with the ASA. A spokeswoman said: “We continue to campaign against fracking, alongside local people, because the process of exploring for and extracting shale gas is inherently risky for the environment.”


I don’t think that the fact FOE have been caught lying will come as any great surprise to any of us.

But there are two deeper questions:

1) Can they be trusted on any other issues?

2) What is their real motive for opposing fracking, which they now admit does not pose the dangers they claimed?

  1. HotScot permalink
    January 4, 2017 11:23 am

    1) No – Nor will it even make them think twice on any other given subject because it would take someone raising another case to stop them.

    2) It would seem their motivation is ‘because they can’. No one can stop the free expression of opinions unless, of course, those opinions are found to be lies. Why do they lie and scaremonger? Fear of loss is a powerful sales technique but there at the cost of credibility when the fears never materialise.

    A UN online poll of 10M people, on 16 subjects placed Climate Change last, behind Internet Access. This is the price the greens are paying for their persistent lying.

    Sorry if you have all seen it before. If not, still time to vote!

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      January 4, 2017 12:16 pm

      What a fascinating table of voters and outcomes, the young dominated, but the sense is terrific.
      Won’t be mentioned on the Big Brother Corp though. Also great reflection of the countries.
      Thanks for this link.

  2. January 4, 2017 11:26 am

    The motive, which applies to much that happens in the world, is simply marketing, terrorists kill people for marketing and recruitment, FOE churns out scare stories, they probably know roughly how much publicity and revenue will be generated by each one.

  3. January 4, 2017 11:45 am

    I don’t expect this ruling from the ASA will stop the BBC using Friends of the Earth as one its first ports of call for comments on fracking, climate change, renewables etc. I don’t expect this ruling will be mentioned by the BBC.

    • David Richardson permalink
      January 4, 2017 12:34 pm

      I think you are right Phillip – BUT I don’t see the BBC as a separate organisation – much inflitration has taken place. You could say the same in education.

    • January 4, 2017 4:08 pm

      R4 8:50am r4Today
      ASA finally say “Greens Lie”
      “Here we have an FoE spokesman”
      : ‘They never said we lied, and even if the claims were unproven ..we think they are true now’
      Facepalm… Talking about sand causes cancer claim etc.
      “But you have agreed not to make any future such claims”
      : ‘yeh but yeh but yeh but’

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 4, 2017 5:28 pm

        Yep, I heard the buffoon.

        “But…but…but…IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!”

      • Mark Hodgson permalink
        January 5, 2017 7:56 am

        Well, the Today programme might have covered it, but I’ve seen nothing on the BBC website. They do, however, ;rominently report this on their main news page: “Fresh doubt over global warming ‘pause'”

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 5, 2017 8:02 pm

        “They do, however, ;rominently report this on their main news page: “Fresh doubt over global warming ‘pause’”

        Interestingly, the Hausfather paper appears to have vanished from the ‘Science’ site…

  4. January 4, 2017 12:00 pm

    FOE will use the fact that there was no ruling in the future when fracking is being discussed. It will go along the lines of:

    ‘Ah, but the there was no ruling against the claims that we made, even though we could not substantiate them at the time.’

    The episode will need to be used as a regular reminder of their folly in order to counter the mists of time.
    When, not if, news agencies such as the BBC use an FOE spokesperson to promote a story then a complaint should be raised about using a proven unreliable source.

  5. TinyCO2 permalink
    January 4, 2017 12:06 pm

    I note that the ruling is against FOE Ltd. Limited companies limit the liability of the company to the funds within it. So the charity is free and clear of any costs other than the small amount in the offending offshoot. Just start up a new company like any other shyster.

  6. Stonyground permalink
    January 4, 2017 12:08 pm

    “The ASA said: “We have told Friends of the Earth Trust Ltd and Friends of the Earth Ltd not to make claims about the likely effects of fracking on the health of local populations, drinking water or property prices in the absence of adequate evidence.””

    And in response, a FOE spokeswoman does precisely that:

    “We continue to campaign against fracking, alongside local people, because the process of exploring for and extracting shale gas is inherently risky for the environment.”

  7. Athelstan permalink
    January 4, 2017 12:19 pm

    Rev Michael Roberts and Ken Wilkinson, or some concerned citizen….and aren’t UKIP missing a trick here…….. [with a fighting fund] should now turn their attention to the idiots who do grant – its fake ‘Charity status’ of the FoE – what is needed PDQ is to defund the fekkers and never should even a sou of taxpayers dosh be paid in to this subcult of Marxist Norvegicus.

    But then look here [as if we didn’t already know it!] wheels within wheels and actually who benefits if………….if Britain leaves this God given bonanza of Shale Gas and Shale Oil – not to forget the trillions of tons of coal under the North sea -in the ground?

    Now lets draw up a list;

    1. Qatar.
    2. Russia?
    3.Saudi Arabia.
    4.The Kermits.
    6.Germany – defo.

    Of course Brussels with their lunatic ideas about leaving fossil fuels in the ground – ‘cept the Germans who are building at this very moment – dirty coal [lignite] generation – natch!

    FFS, fuck off to the FoE and take your EU paymasters with you and when you’ve fucked off, then – fuck off some more.

  8. David Richardson permalink
    January 4, 2017 12:31 pm

    FOE only stop lying when forced by action of this kind – OR (as in the case of bio-fuels) when even they can see that everyone else knows they are wrong. In the case of bio-fuels, they have even tried to say they were never in favour – but the Wayback Machine shows them “demanding” governments mandate a %age in road fuels 15 years ago.

    I don’t even believe them when I think they are right – which admittedly is not that often

    • January 4, 2017 2:00 pm

      I first came across FOE in the late 70s when they were telling massive lies about nuclear power. They have been consistent liars ever since, so I would, by default, assume that the opposite of what they claim will be the truth. They do not appear to have any scientific or engineering capability.

  9. Mike Jackson permalink
    January 4, 2017 1:07 pm

    No point in my repeating my opinions on the inherent mendacity which modern environmental movements have hard-wired into their collective DNA. FoE must have known that this ruling was inevitable sooner or later.

    But lookee here! There hasn’t been a “ruling” and with one bound plus the odd delaying tactic and the fact that the rest of us have lives to lead … they are free!!

    And so how long before A FoE Spokesman pops up and says (in response to some well-judged criticism in the Mail or similar) “The ASA has never made a ruling against FoE .and to say it has is wrong. We were criticised by them for some statements made in a leaflet which they maintained were not supportable and we agreed to withdraw that leaflet. We continue to be opposed to fracking, fossil fuels, GM crops and anything else that make mankind’s life on this planet a little more comfortable, safer, healthier and will continue to disrupt any activity we disapprove of and leave oil-based plastic detritus and human excrement behind when we finally get bored and move on.”

    OK, the last bit might be a bit OTT but you get the drift. Very skilful move on their part; they will do the same thing again when it suits them and the ASA and whichever concerned citizenry chooses to get involved will have to jump through the same hoops all over again. And the chances are just as the axe is about to fall they will pit their hands up, claim “it’s a fair cop, guv” and the while sorry saga is back at square one.

    Unless of course fhe ASA or the government grow a pair and treat them as the pseudo-terrorist outfit they really are.

    • Athelstan permalink
      January 4, 2017 3:33 pm

      A pretty shrewd post, the last paragraph is the kicker, and it’s sad to relate that, I won’t hold my breath.

      Until, the Donald starts to kick green arses in the US, and suddenly [as if by magic]….. everybody begins to see the light “oh golly gee man! I never realized it, no one told me man……wow the great scam…… was all diddly squat made up by Jack shit!”

      Aye its – corporate America Trump needs to go after, follow the money and stop US taxpayers being on the hook…………………then just maybe the green tosserati over here in Blighty!………will slink into the dark red merde whence they came – we’ll wait and see.

  10. January 4, 2017 1:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    So-called environmental campaigners telling porkies? Whatever next?

  11. January 4, 2017 2:59 pm

    this was a pretty big deal about a year ago but they have gone quiet on it.

  12. January 4, 2017 3:38 pm

    Always go back to the source; here is the Rev Michael Roberts blogpost on the topic:

  13. January 4, 2017 4:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  14. January 4, 2017 4:23 pm

    A thorough audit of all these eco-freak ‘charities’ – FoE, Greenpeace, WWF, RSPB, National Trust etc, etc – is long overdue.

  15. markl permalink
    January 4, 2017 4:39 pm

    “2) What is their real motive for opposing fracking, which they now admit does not pose the dangers they claimed?”……Same as the motive for AGW. To the environmentalists banning fossil fuels will save the world. To the One World Government cabal it would defeat Capitalism and Democracy.

  16. Bitter&twisted permalink
    January 4, 2017 5:28 pm

    Shock horror! Greens lie!
    And why not?
    The MSM/BBC will not report this.
    So why will the FoEscists stop lying?

  17. January 4, 2017 5:44 pm

    You missed the bait and switch. “Too risky” for the environment.

    Mistake not pushing for formal ruling. Clauswitz understood: never allow an enemy on the run to escape. All he will do is regroup for a counterattack.

  18. January 4, 2017 7:24 pm

    This is about to be on Channel 4 news.

  19. clipe permalink
    January 4, 2017 10:45 pm

    Some people are fighting back

    No peace for Greenpeace

    Canadian case

    However, Resolute spokesman Seth Kursman noted that the company’s “overarching allegation, that Greenpeace refers to and invokes its past campaigns in order to threaten and intimidate Resolute’s customers, remains part of Resolute’s pleading.”

    He also added that the court has only dismissed specific examples of Greenpeace’s past campaigns from the pleadings, stating that the “ruling does not permit Greenpeace to run away from its own identity, which is very much a live issue for trial.”

    “This Court decision does not in any way diminish the claims against Greenpeace of defamation and intentional interference with commercial relations.”

  20. AlecM permalink
    January 5, 2017 3:30 pm

    Whaddya expect from innumerate FoE liars, except they don’t understand the concept of lying when it comes to Science.

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