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London fracking debate cancelled as pro-frackers turn down another invitation to talk

9th July 2014

The group trying to organise a nationwide debate about fracking in the UK has cancelled its next event because supporters of the process would not take part.

The debate, organised by Talk Fracking, was due to be held at Central Hall Westminster on Monday (July 14th) and chaired by the journalist and Channel 4 News presenter, Jon Snow.

This was Talk Fracking’s second attempt to involve the fracking industry and its supporters in a debate in London and the sixth around the UK.

In June, a similar event held at Central Hall Westminster was more discussion than debate because no proponents of fracking, either from the industry or politics, joined the panel. The same was true of the group’s events in Swansea, Manchester, Nottingham and Glasgow.

A spokesperson for Talk Fracking said: “This is the sixth debate event that we have created that the supporters of shale gas have refused to field a panel for.”

He said the organisation had a list of 88 people who had been invited with plenty of advance notice. “Many of those names are currently calling for more public debate in the media but when offered the opportunity, they have either stonewalled us, turned us down or failed to commit.”

“We recognise that despite this being such a potentially major shift in Britain, still there is much misleading material out there from both sides of the argument. With this in mind, we will still be pushing for genuine debate in the UK involving strong panels on both sides. This is an issue of a deficit in democracy as much as anything else.”

At June’s debate in London, Dame Vivienne Westwood, one the event’s funders, told the capacity audience: “We want to give the policymakers of government and industry a further opportunity to take part so we have rebooked the Central Hall Westminster in a month’s time on July 14th and we are hopeful that this time they will attend.“

At one stage it looked as though representatives from the industry and an MP would take part. But it became clear last week that the industry would not attend and the booking was cancelled.

The Talk Fracking spokesperson said: “On our Talk Fracking tour we found that many of the ‘undecideds’ in the audience were instantly far more sceptical about fracking by the simple fact that policymakers and industry spokespeople had refused to sit on the panels.”

“All those people who had attended the Talk Fracking events will know that they were carried off professionally and that all people attending were treated with respect and given equal voice.”

“We are dedicated to the British public having the opportunity to engage with a public debate about fracking, so that the definitive answers to key questions can finally be answered in all honesty, without spin or confusion.”

  • Nick Grealy, who runs the pro-fracking website Nohotair.com, posted the following comment on Talk Fracking’s report of the first London debate, which said every effort had been made to draw in both sides of the argument:

    “Every effort? Sure about that? Perhaps Jon Snow could help next time. After all I’ve been on his show. Twice. Or perhaps you are in reality an inconsequential bunch of trust fund hipsters scared of debate with someone TRULY progressive.”

4 replies »

  1. What was clear about Talkfracking was that it did not want debate but put the case against. Their tweets demonstrate this and many participants on their debates were scarcely accurate in their portrayal of fracking. Talkfracking need to clean up their act

  2. If I would be ever asked to collect a group of nut cases & loonies; I would simply copy the format of TalkFracking.
    They published a video of the London meeting. Hilarious. Other then some compelling talk (not fact based, but allas) of the 2-3 ‘decent’ participants the whole thing collapses into a cult like shambles.
    And then to see that the good BBC journalist lends himself to this flying circus. You couldn’t make it up.
    There was one geologist in the audience who gave some context to the bigger energy picture. Clearly, after allowing him some obligatory correct time to vent his points, he was cut off. Then it was revolution and Vivian Westwood. The latter, if anything, symbolises the decay of their case.

    Let’s see if this comment will survive the editor of this blog. Mind you, the blog is about ‘independent, evidence based reporting’. I challenge everyone to come up with a better description of the TalkFracking video. Regardless which side of the ‘debate’ you are on, it is only laughable. TalkFracking is the Brazil soccer team playing Germany. Without the stars, that is; lets not be too rude to Brazil.

    Meantime, put a sweater on; the solution to the climate problem has announced itself!

    TalkFracking should have been more honest, and named itself TalkAgainstFracking. No-one will believe this circus.

  3. Actually, Talk Fracking have been the only salient piece of sanity amidst a barrage of pr blitzing that has left the country confused/misled/angry. I hadn’t any knowledge about fracking but TF got to me through pop culture roots basically and got me looking it up for myself.

    I think TF are genuinely just keen to have balanced debate more than anything. They may have serious concerns but they seem to me to be more pro democracy than anti-fracking. All their material just proves that we need genuine independent debate. Where s that? Why didn’t the pro frackers come? It turns out there were over 80 scientists, policy makers and industry figures invited to the panels.

    I admire their efforts and the fact that none of the pro frackers that they had invited except the geologist Nick Ailey, speaks volumes! For me, the pro fracking lobby, multi million pound no doubt, with people in all relevant government departments ( thanks lord browne) consistently says it wants more public debate and yet they shied away from this not once but six times?!

    I hope Talk Fracking do more to get people involved in looking at the unspun version of the fracking story.

    These two articles alone indicate that the mass pro frack lobby is an utter lie, spun rubbish: http://www.barcombe.org/fracking/docs/Prof%20David%20Smythe/Smythe%20shale%20gas%20submission%20to%20HoL%20v1.5.pdf

    The uk is being lied to, ignored and treated as subjects not citizens

    I support Talk Fracking massively and look forward to what this very different initiative does next. I hope they do get major balanced debates going.

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