Lobby group climbdown

Friends of the Earth admits false fracking claims

Green lobby group Friends of the Earth has been forced into an embarrassing admission that it made false claims about the effects of fracking. 

In a major fundraising drive targeted at thousands of homes it claimed that fluids used in the process were a danger to health and would cause house prices to plummet.

The charity has been a vigorous opponent of the controversial gas exploration technique and has waged a bitter battle with fracking companies such as Cuadrilla.

However, it has now admitted its claims were wrong, Following an intensive 14-month investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority, FoE has agreed with the regulator that it made a series of false claims about fracking in a leaflet entitled ‘Pat Saved Her Home From Fracking. You Can Save Yours too’.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, which is exploring at two locations in England, said: “After many attempts by Friends of the Earth to delay this decision, the charity’s admission that all of the claims it made, that we complained about, were false should hopefully put a stop to it misleading the UK public on fracking.

“Friends of the Earth’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.”

Friends of the Earth has committed to the ASA that “it will not to repeat the claims, or claims which have the same meaning, in future.”

The agreement covers the false claims that:

  • the fluid used in fracking contains chemicals dangerous to human health, and that the fluid would, as a natural consequence of the act of fracking, contaminate the drinking water of nearby communities because it remained underground
  • the US fracking site [the FoE leaflet] referred to was responsible for the increase in asthma rates, and that the public would be at risk of equivalent increases in asthma rates by living or working near a fracking site in the UK
  • that there is an established risk of the chemicals concerned causing cancer and other conditions among the local population, when used in fracking in the UK
  • that fracking will cause plummeting house prices

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