A green campaign group has agreed not to repeat misleading claims about the health and environmental impacts of fracking after complaints to the advertising watchdog.
Friends of the Earth flyer: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Friends of the Earth “agreed not to repeat the claims, or claims that had the same meaning”
Friends of the Earth spent more than a year trying to defend its claims, which were made in a fundraising leaflet, but has been forced to withdraw them.
The group’s capitulation is a victory for a retired vicar and a retired physics teacher who have been working for years to expose what they believe is scaremongering about a safe technique for extracting shale gas.
The Rev Michael Roberts and Ken Wilkinson complained about Friends of the Earth’s claims to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which also received a complaint from the fracking company Cuadrilla.
The authority found that Friends of the Earth (FoE) failed to substantiate claims that fracking could cause cancer, contaminate water supplies, increase asthma rates and send house prices plummeting.
The ASA produced its draft ruling in July but was forced to delay sending it to its council for approval because FoE repeatedly requested more time to challenge the findings. The group finally agreed not to repeat the claims in a deal with the ASA under which it has avoided having a formal ruling against it.
The ASA said: “We have told Friends of the Earth Trust Ltd and Friends of the Earth Ltd not to make claims about the likely effects of fracking on the health of local populations, drinking water or property prices in the absence of adequate evidence.”
Mr Wilkinson, who said that he had no connection with the fracking industry and was acting purely to ensure the public received accurate information, welcomed the ruling. “It is outrageous that FoE used false information to raise money,” he said. “We need a frank debate about fracking and its potential impacts but it should be based on facts, not scaremongering.”