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.
“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.”