“Dear Aunty, is it true that Residents Action on Fylde Fracking has been forced into an embarrassing withdrawal of anti-fracking literature in Lancashire?”
Yes, it most certainly seems so dears.
After a complaint to the ASA, RAFF decided to withdraw the leaflet – rather inappropriately titled “Shale Gas The Facts…” it appears – and to give an undertaking not to circulate it again in future rather than face a full ASA Council investigation that would have led to it being publicly rebuked by the advertising watchdog.
You might remember that Cuadrilla was subjected to an ASA investigation in 2013 after a Lancashire anti-fracking activist, John Hobson, complained about a bulletin distributed to Lancashire residents in the summer of 2012.
Unlike RAFF, which was clearly unable to justify claims in its leaflet, Cuadrilla elected to defend its publication poppets.
That’s right: Cuadrilla had the courage of its convictions to stand by its literature, which meant that the complaint was considered formally by the ASA Council. Some of the complaints were upheld and a judgement issued – something that anti-frackers everywhere have been dining out on ever since.
RAFF, on the other hand, has been able to avoid the indignity of an ASA judgement. According to The Times:
“In a provisional judgment, the authority agreed with Mr Roberts that several of RAFF’s claims were misleading and breached its code. The leaflet, Shale Gas, the Facts, made unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims about the chemicals used, the frequency of leaks, water contamination, radioactive waste and the amount of land needed for drilling. The leaflet based some of its claims on fracking practices used in the US but not permitted in Britain. It made unsubstantiated claims that fracking chemicals had caused diseases such as cancer.”
Another campaign group, Frack Free Somerset reacted in the same way last year when literature it had distributed was complained about to the ASA.
So what does this tell us dears?
Well, amongst other things, it suggests that anti-fracking groups lack conviction and any real knowledge but are prepared to deal in inaccuracies, mistruths and distortion in order to achieve their ends.
It also points to their lack of a moral compass too: that they are quite prepared to knowingly share misleading information with their neighbours when all the while calling themselves “community protectors” is rather disturbing, wouldn’t you agree?
And, of course, it again demonstrates their complete and utter inability to back up their assertions – though we shouldn’t be too surprised, cherubs, because two of RAFF’s leading lights were entirely unable to do just that when challenged by Lord Lipsey in a House of Lords committee inquiry in 2013 to list the “nasty chemicals” they said were used in fracking – something they were none to pleased with, as you can see on their website here. Note how they refer to him simply as David Lipsey and not by his title, their lack of respect perhaps a sign of their anti-establishment leanings too…
This news couldn’t have come at a better moment, my loves, because in just a few short weeks Lancashire County Council will decide whether or not to grant Cuadrilla planning permission for two exploratory shale gas sites.
The emergence that Fylde anti-frackers have distributed misleading information, which Lancashire residents may have relied upon in the course of objecting to these plans when encouraged to do so by campaigners, will surely come as music to the industry’s ears.
Hopefully, Lancashire County Council will now dismiss any of the 20,000 supposed objections that repeat RAFF’s claims, on the basis that they are fundamentally flawed.
Until next time xxx