Anti-fracking leaflet withdrawn in Lancashire by RAFF
Press reports today suggest that campaigners at RAFF in Lancashire have agreed to withdraw an anti-fracking leaflet after a complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The leaflet, “Shale Gas The Facts…” was produced by Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) and distributed across Lancashire at a series of public meetings.
Lancashire resident, Michael Roberts, and Ken Wilkinson, were concerned that the leaflet contained flawed and inaccurate information.
Following their complaint, the ASA launched an investigation, during which it provisionally upheld five out of eight of the complaints according to The Independent, with The Times reporting that the leaflet 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.
But whilst the investigation was underway, RAFF withdrew the leaflet, telling the ASA that it accepted that the content needed updating and that it would refine it in future ads to ensure compliance with the CAP Code.
Speaking to the Lancashire Evening Post, Bob Dennett, a RAFF spokesperson, denied the leaflet had been withdrawn, saying: “We had already run out and decided not to reprint it before the ASA became involved.”
A spokeswoman for the ASA, however, told the Lancashire Evening Post: “The ASA was carefully assessing evidence from both sides. They had not come to any conclusion… They (RAFF) withdrew the leaflet before a final decision was made.” It is listed by the ASA as an informally resolved case.
Michael Roberts said: “We are delighted that RAFF will be withdrawing its anti-fracking leaflet as a result of our complaint to the ASA.
“The people of Lancashire deserve to have access to the facts about shale gas exploration to help them reach an informed decision about it. The RAFF leaflet contained a number of misleading assertions and technical inaccuracies that would leave most readers with a very skewed and negative impression of what shale gas extraction is likely to mean for the communities where it takes place.
“Misrepresentation and distortion – whether deliberate or not – is unhelpful, does nothing to inform local people, and serves only to further entrench polarised views.”
Damaging to small business prospects in Lancashire
Lee Petts, Chief Executive of the Onshore Energy Services Group and a Lancashire businessman, commented on the news: “It is vital that, in deciding their position on fracking, the people of Lancashire rely on accurate information provided by leading independent sources.
“As this news shows, there is a lot of inaccurate information out there. The danger is that Lancashire’s residents could wrongly form their views based on technically flawed, outdated opinions, or stories from the United States where things are very different.
“Objecting to shale gas exploration for the wrong reasons could damage the chances of Lancashire’s small business community to grow and thrive alongside this new industry, meaning less investment and fewer jobs.”
You can listen here to Michael Roberts discussing the complaint with Graham Liver on BBC Radio Lancashire.