Don’t be rude about the public, shale conference told

Geologists attending a shale conference were warned not to be rude or patronising about the public.

Zoe ShiptonProfessor Zoe Shipton, of Strathclyde University, told the Geological Society’s Shale UK meeting this afternoon: “We need to have a bit of respect and we need to listen”.

Speaking during a session about how to persuade the public to accept shale, she said: “There is a narrative in this room that there is this hostile public that hates us. There is no such thing as the public. There is a spectrum of opinions”.

Some delegates had questioned whether the public had a realistic idea of the risks of shale gas. But Professor Shipton described these comments as patronising.

“People are so rude about the public. We are the public too. We have to make decisions about life all the time.” She said she would hate to be patronised for her attitudes to pharmaceuticals at a conference of that industry’s professionals.

In response to suggestions that geologists should take a standard presentation about shale to community groups, she said: “Communication is also about listening. We have to listen.”

“There is no point in giving a set of slides. We need to work out what people are worried about.”

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