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BBC reveals how it tried to get oil companies and politicians to join Fernhurst fracking debate

16th July 2014

The BBC explained this morning how it encouraged oil and gas companies and politicians to take part in its live fracking debate at Fernhurst – even though none chose to attend.

Journalist Mark Carter told the BBC Sussex Danny Pike show that Cuadrilla, which drilled last year at Balcombe, declined an invitation to take part in the live discussion. He said: “The company also declined the offer of a pre-recorded interview.”

Celtique Energie, which has submitted planning applications to drill at Fernhurst and between Wisborough Green and Kirdford, also declined invitations to attend or pre-record an interview. The case in favour of fracking was put only by geologist Dr Nick Riley.

Celtique Energie did, however, send the BBC this statement:

“One of the possible outcomes from the initial exploration well at Fernhurst is that it indicates that there could be commercial-viable levels of oil in the naturally permeable conventional (non-shale) rocks. In that event, we wouldn’t need to use hydraulic fracturing as the oil would flow naturally.”

“The most respected scientists and engineers in the UK, including the likes of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, have said that on the basis of the scientific evidence, exploration and production for onshore oil and gas can be done safely, as it has been done for many years.”

The statement says the company worked in a “highly-regulated industry” and if there were concerns planning permission would not be granted.

It concluded:

“We firmly believe that the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing are negligible. Issues could theoretically materialise if well design, specifically the steel casing and cementing programme, and the hydraulic fracturing process is not designed and implemented properly. However, it is a very tightly controlled regulatory regime and that would ensure that such risks are minimised.”

Mark Carter also described how the radio station had invited politicians to join the event.

“Two political reporters made numerous attempts to get any politicians to take part”, he said.

A UKIP politician spoke from the audience and David Cameron and Brighton’s Green Party MP Caroline Lucas pre-recorded interviews. But, Mark Carter said, “Again the politicians didn’t want to be there.”

13 replies »

  1. Off course the industry declined. Anyone who has seen the TalkFracking (ie. TalkAgainstFracking) would not join. The debate already took place, and it has been approved under a well regulated regime. Simple as that. Every possible stakeholder has had an opportunity to put forward opinions and facts. From the National Geological Society to specialists all around the industry as well as members of the general public. Public hearings, reports, consultations etc. what more do you want for an informed and content driven debate?
    Do we want amateurs and loonies to ignore all above and start it all over? Or do we simply recognise this as a debate in disguise; TalkAGainstFracking is the message here. Well, good luck to it!
    And meantime, do organise your revolution, your new model for society etc etc. What a load of nonsense!
    If you want to protest against a license application, go ahead. But that is about it. Society has chosen to move on, to progress. Like it has always done.

    • I agree with the above comments. It has been debated for 3 years now. All public and independent reports and inquiries all came to the same conclusion. It can be routinely done and safely with the current regulatory framework in place. And yet if you watch the so called debate with Vivianne Westwood on BBC all she can say is everything the other side said is wrong or not true. Simple observation of fact, just look at the Yanks with almost 1 millions Fracked wells and how many imaginary nightmares the anti fracking can point to. Less than you can count on your fingers and most were due to well integrity that can be fixed. No doubt awareness of the risk and issues need to be raised scrutinized addressed and regulated but it is getting to a point of being ignorant when you just flush the balance of risk and benefits analysis down the gutter because emotional and ideology.

  2. The following logic applies here:

    Vivian Westwood demonstrating against tracking = geologists demonstrating against bra’s

  3. Water security is the issue with short life well drilling and the economic models are not environment friendly. So Ruth the extreme oil and gas drillers are winning…a terrible loss to the future of the countryside. By the way my Crown Court Retrial adjournment scheduled for 10 Sept has been postponed I was informed yesterday because Prosecution witnesses, is police officers from Kent are busy! So much for both sides getting their diaries out!

  4. Shame on the polluters…is is just too late in the day for this insane assault on our fragile land …we do not need to do this!

  5. Harness the moon. Harness the sun. Harness the waves. The tides. The wind. Design clean cars. Employ your brilliant engineers for a future free of fossil fuels pollution and war. Protect the future of our wonderfully diverse countryside…the future. And stop insulting those of us who for no personal gain oppose your insane greed. What is your real name ‘Darwin’ and who pays you? What is your real name ‘Tommie’ and who pays you? My name is Nick Ward aka busker Banjo Nick. I am not paid for my environmental protection work.

  6. And how much are you paid ‘Tommie’ and ‘Darwin’ for your advocacy of extreme fossil fuel drilling? Are you paid by the hour? Do you keep time sheets?

    • So you want to know our names? Or if we are being paid?
      I do not seek personal attention or a place in the spotlight. This is really the style of the opponents of shale, it keeps striking me.
      Why is that personal advertising of concern and empathy the chosen style of so many protestors? The urge of wanting to be seen as do-gooders? Why don’t you guys just go see a psychiatrist and see if he can help, instead of pushing your non-sense on a society that just wants to move on.

      You want to import energy from Isis friendly nations in the Middle East and africa?
      You want gas and oil from Russia? The country that just shot down an airplane with 300 innocent victims?

  7. I act as an individual protecting water security against the Halliburten junk economics model which ignores massive environmental costs. Darwin I do not understand your motives…you make so many assumptions about mine! And you are an insulting troll!

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