Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | November 9, 2013

Crude PR by UK Government to Soften up the UK Public

Since the Balcombe protests this summer, the government and petro-chemical industry have begun a crude PR campaign to soften up the UK Public.

Behind the scenes it looks as if they’ve been leaning on the National Trust Director-General, and they are hyping a soon to be published  study by the water industry, saying it has concluded that fracking is safe, when in reality a spokesman for Water UK, which represents the industry and has carried out the report, has admitted that “There are risks.”

They are also publicising a recent report by Public Health England, an agency of the Department of Health, which reviewed the latest research into the risks of emissions of the chemicals used in fracking and radioactive material released with the gas. Their conclusion is that “potential risks to public health from exposure to the emissions associated with shale gas extraction are low if the operations are properly run and regulated”. This ignores the fact that fracking companies currently self-assess as to the safety of their activities. At Preese Hall (the first UK fracking site) there was not a single visit from either the Environment Agency or Health & Safety Executive, and Cuadrilla fractured a well case (which they did not report to the EA), overran their planning permission and produced highly radioactive waste.

The report states that ‘high quality well integrity’ should protect water sources, ignoring the fact that no such thing as ‘high quality well integrity’ exists. A percentage of wells fracture and no casing has yet been designed that is 100% safe.

The report admits that an American study found 75% of fracking fluid cemicals could affect skin, eyes and breathing, while 25% are carcinogenic. But they suggest that strict enforcement of chemicals handling and attention to well design will mean we can all relax. Is that likely?

Michael Fallon, MP "Only the stupidest of people could feel comfortable with fracking."

Michael Fallon, MP “Only the stupidest of people could feel comfortable with fracking.”

The BBC website states the energy minister Michael Fallon welcomed the findings. Anyone in their right mind would not welcome these findings at all.

Flying in Chris Faulkner, a man with all the finesse of a night-club bouncer, and known as the ‘Frackmaster’ to allay our fears by telling us that in America thousands of wells have been drilled to no ill effect, has backfired. Even the most gullible TV viewer is unlikely to fall for this bizarre form of bullying, disguised as ‘schmoozing PR’.

The sad conclusion to be drawn from these events is that they still haven’t got the message that the British public don’t want their countryside ruined, their air and water held to ransom, and their roads clogged with trucks containing foul chemicals.

I just hope Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and every other body that is against fracking can mobilise public opinion and counter these clumsy attempts to hoodwink us all.


Responses

  1. Unbelievable, the desperate depths to which the government, and their fracking pipes, will sink!

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Up to just recently the fracking industry has run a very poor campaign and the anti-frackers with their great use of social media have had the upper hand. During the last week it has become obvious that the frackers have at last woken up to this. Expect things to get much dirtier from now on. The oil industry are old hands at this. Watch ouf for such Machievellian tactics as the creation of new supposedly anti-fracking groups with the intent to drive a wedge between the existing factions, continuous feed of unattributed articles to press attempting to influence the publics perception of the anti-fracking groups, the employment of people to write into public forums and blogs and the influencing of local politicians and democracy etc. The small companies like Dart, iGas and Cuadrilla are beginning to sign contracts with the likes of disastrous US multinational Haliburton and they will bring all the tactics they’ve accumulated in the US over the last 20 years to the UK. Importing bully-boy Frack-Master Faulkner is just the start. It’s time to get serious.

  3. I tend to avoid the “news” but did here one today on BBC Radio Five Live, in which they quite glibly reported that there were no problems with fracking! They may actually have been quoting the govenment, I wasn’t giving it my full attention (as I say, I try to avoid the news) but my point is that the impression given was clearly a pro-fracking stance. Sad to see a once noble institution as the BBC be so unwilling to criticise this ludicrous technology!

  4. Bother – that should be “hear” not “here!

  5. THe BBC should be renamed the BBSC!

  6. They haven’t learnt the lessons with coal mining in this country and the damage that did to properties and the surrounding geology and that was a relatively stable operation compared to this. I would like to propose that they start fracking first under the houses of parliament and then move on to the gardens of the mp’s who are backing this ludicrous proposal.

  7. Well, they haven’t fooled me! I’m sure the British public are not so gullible to believe this claptrap!!

  8. Can I suggest that you write to the New Civil Engineer magazine. The civil engineering industry and ICE are broadly in favour and the Royal Society has published a cautiously positive report, but it stipulates many conditions that must be met before fracking should be carried out. Needless to say these have been given second billing to the generally positive conclusion. Water UK and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management are not in favour. Bizarrely the Environment Agency seem to be going along with it.
    Andrew Wood BEng CEng MICE

    • The government have published their response to the RSE recommendations. One of the main authors of the RSE report has already had a letter published in the Civil Engineer indicating that he was happy with the governments response. Odd, as to me it appears to place the onus for monitoring and assessment on the fracking companies themselves.

  9. The process uses so much water, what isn’t safe is a guarantee of domestic supply in the future. Already depleted rivers will be further diminished.

  10. Do they think that we are all so stupid that we won’t see through what they are doing?

    • If you mean by “all” the population of the UK then yes, they probably are right unfortunately.


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