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.”
- Our reports of June’s London event: “We need to talk about more than just fracking” – London debate hears; Fracking’s dodgy dossiers; Politicians and the drilling industry get another invitation to talk about fracking
- 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.”