Fracking leaflet banned over 'misleading' claims

image captionCuadrilla have sites in St Annes and Banks in Lancashire's Bowland basin

An energy company's brochure about the safety of fracking has been banned over misleading and exaggerated claims.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld six complaints made by anti-fracking group Refracktion about the 2012 Cuadrilla leaflet.

In an adjudication, the ASA said the leaflet, which was distributed to homes in Lancashire, "must not appear again".

Cuadrilla's chief executive Francis Egan said the company were "disappointed".

Mr Egan added the company would: "Continue to provide the best scientific information to those people who live in the communities where shale gas exploration will take place."

Fracking is a technique which involves water and chemicals being pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

It was temporarily banned in the UK after it was blamed for two earth tremors in Blackpool in 2011, a claim dismissed by researchers from Durham University's Energy Institute earlier this month.

Cuadrilla has applied to Lancashire County Council to frack for shale gas at its Anna's Road site in St Annes and Banks, near Southport.

'Clear vindication'

In 2012, it posted a leaflet containing information about the process to thousands of properties across Lancashire.

The ASA upheld six out of 18 complaints made by the anti-fracking group and partly upheld one more, stating Cuadrilla had breached guidelines governing the areas of misleading information, exaggeration and substantiation.

A Refrackion spokesman said there were: "Many people in Lancashire trying to make rational, fact-based decisions about the potential impact of fracking on their communities, and this misleading information has made this much more difficult than it needs to be.

"Now that the ASA have recognised that many of the claims made in this leaflet were misleading and were not capable of substantiation, we believe local people will realise that they need to look much more critically at the information put out in future by Cuadrilla."

He added that it was "unfortunate Cuadrilla will not be made to publish any sort of apology" over the brochure.

Mr Egan said he was "pleased that the ASA has also validated the majority of points made in Cuadrilla's leaflet", adding that it was "important to note the ASA has confirmed that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely".

However, he said that Cuadrilla believed "the ASA should have consulted scientific experts before reaching its conclusions, and has made some very fine distinctions about what we can and cannot say."

He concluded saying the energy company would be "examining the adjudication carefully to see what communication lessons can be learned in future."

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