Guest post: Government recruits fracking commissioner to “facilitate communication” with residents

PNR 180719 Danny Vc Llew1

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 18 July 2018. Photo Danny Vc Llew

By Chloe Farand, DeSmog UK.

The UK government is recruiting a shale gas commissioner to “facilitate communication” with residents and promote what is sees as the benefits of a new fossil fuel industry. The position was announced days before the government gave the go-ahead for fracking to start in Lancashire.

The new role of shale commissioner has been described by the government as “an independent appointment” which will have no powers of enforcement or investigation but will aim to

“improve local understanding of shale gas operations by directing concerned local parties to relevant and impartial fact based information”.

The commissioner will act as a go-between for the industry, regulators and residents, “communicating the evidence base for shale gas” and “facilitating open and transparent communication with local residents”.

The job application states that the two-year role will require up to eight days of work a month with applications for the role closing on Sunday (29 July 2018. The advert was posted on Monday July 23 2018.

Despite more than 18 months of active campaigning by anti-fracking protesters, energy minister Claire Perry has issued the first fracking consent since new regulatory measures were introduced.

Shale gas firm Cuadrilla has been granted permission to start fracking at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire, with the company expected to begin work in the next few weeks.

This comes as the government launched a public consultation over whether to remove the need for planning applications for non-fracking shale gas proposals and to take decisions on shale gas production away from local councils.

In a statement yesterday, Ms Perry said shale gas had the potential for “further enhancing our energy security and helping us with our continued transition to a lower-carbon economy”. She added it had the capacity to “deliver substantial economic benefits, both nationally and locally, as well as through the creation of well paid, high-quality jobs”.

In a recent government survey published in April, nearly a third of respondents (32 percent) said they were opposed to fracking, compared with  18 percent who supported it. Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said they neither supported nor opposed. The same survey found support for renewable energy peaked at 85 percent.

“Joke job application”

In Lancashire and North Yorkshire, anti-fracking activists described the government’s move to try and win over communities as a “lost cause”.

Claire Stephenson, from Frack Free Lancashire, described the job application as “almost a joke job application, filled with absurd spin”.

“The fact that the ‘skills required’ include communication, media and marketing, suggest this role is nothing more than a hollow PR exercise.

“How dare the government presume to be able to speak on behalf of our concerns, considering they’ve spent the last several years assuaging the industry, blatantly changing the goalposts to suit them, whilst treating communities with utter condescension and oppression.”

Becky Daniels, an anti-fracking activist who has lived at a protest camp near the Preston New Road site for over a year with her three children, told DeSmog UK:

“The relations between the local people and those who are trying to enforce fracking are at an all time low. We do not trust them because they cannot prove to us that fracking is safe.

“This new role will just be another person in a chain that we have to work through to get our point across to the government.

“Some people might feel much safer to know that there could be a go-to point of contact to speak about their concerns. But not for the rest of us who have realised for a while that this industry is toxic and dangerous.”

Reacting to the news the government granted permission for Cuadrilla to start fracking at the Preston New Road site, Ms Daniels said:

“None of us have lost hope here and we are still standing strong and united against the industry.”

Russell Scott, a freelance journalist and member of the anti-fracking group Frack Free Ryedale in North Yorkshire, said the hiring of a shale gas commissioner to facilitate communication with local residents was “desperate”.

“This is another move by the government to try and convince an unwilling British public to accept that fracking isn’t dangerous or a threat to our environment.

“We can no longer kick the can down the road – climate change is a real threat, supported by scientific facts. Do we need any more warnings before we figure out that we must tackle this problem without further procrastination rather than commit to a new form of fossil fuel extraction.”

Edited version of a post which first appeared on DeSmog UK


43 replies »

  1. The new person’s role will include “directing concerned local parties to relevant and impartial fact based information” … hmm, like the NY Compendium on the harms of fracking, perhaps? Or to the INEOS website?

  2. What’s this…. Our government as grown some b**ls the past few days? Happy to read all these recent posts though.

  3. Oh Ellie-you left out DOD! Shame on you.

    Timing is a bit odd. Maybe better to have waited for PNR to frack?

  4. A cynical ploy to deceive a gullible electorate. I hope this time people read the facts and appreciate the massive downside to fracking and the burning of fossil fuels.

  5. Dear me, sheer desperation papering over the fracks with a super zero comic character wearing underpants outside of their “fossil fuel derived spandex costume”!

    What are they going to call it?

    “Frackman”? “Frackwoman”? “The Jerker”? Maybe its a job for “The Darkest Blight”?

    What a farce!

  6. The very fact that a commissioner is needed, actually speaks volumes – legitimate businesses wouldn’t need one!

    • Some random guy going round trying in vain to convince people shale is the best thing since sliced bread.

      The funniest bit is that some body came up with the ridiculous idea in the first place.

      He could partner up with ‘Angle Grinder Man’

      What an unstoppable duo that would be.

      • I think Angle Grinder Man would cut off his chains and free him from tyranny John?

        It looks like we all need Angle Grinder Man to help free us from “Ba**ls Clamp Man”?

    • All industries have its own commissioners or liaison executives to push their agenda. That include renewables which has FoE and Greenpeace acting under disguises as a non-profit organization.


    We were told Fracking will bring jobs and opportunities

    Just as an example of a Commissioners pay , the Police and Crime Commissioner receives £ 70,000 per year .

    Any takers out there for a possible £ 70,000 a year job as a Fracking Commisioner ????

    Talk about wasting money, Ladies and Gentlemen I rest my case

    • Fracking Commissioner, whoever takes on that job trying to sell Fracking to the general public , will have a better odds selling them Chocolate Fireguards .

      It’s to be hoped their pay structure is not based on results , or else we might see Fracking Commissioners turning up at Food Banks.

      • I suspect they will only use their off shore tax haven “Food Banks” Jack?

        And they have too many of those all ready?

      • well seems we all agree on something even if it is only that Police commissioners are a complete waste of money. we didn.t need them before & we certainly don,t need em Now.

  8. Another high paid job created via the fracking “industry” then Jack.

    Interesting how the antis set out a false platform of no job creation and then moan when jobs are created. Nobody will notice though? Oh yes they will. More fog being cleared away by all this lovely sunlight.

    Perhaps this new person could spend a bit of time initially on listing such misinformation? Difficult with only 8 days per month.

    Must go. Have to up-date my CV.

    • I can honestly with hand on heart , think of no other person that has tirelessly in vain, tried to promote the Fracking industry more than you MARTIN.
      Although an adversary, I would be happy to give you a reference to the above fact .

      The 8 days work a month may sound good, but I fear that with the verbal onslaught from an educated public … You will be needing the rest of the month to rest your ears ..

      As far as success goes , you would have more of a chance of selling Snow To Eskimos , than selling Fracking to the public .

      I wish you the best of luck with your Job application .

      PS …… What’s that you said , the fogs clearing and the Suns coming out ….Better get generating some free electricity .

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