Anti-fracking leaflet 'withdrawn' after vicar's accuracy claim

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Image caption Rev Michael Roberts claims fracking is safer than cycling

An anti-fracking leaflet was withdrawn after its accuracy was questioned by a retired vicar, the advertising watchdog has confirmed.

Rev Michael Roberts complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the leaflet by Residents' Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF).

The qualified geologist said the leaflet was "scaremongering" but RAFF said it stood by the leaflet's claims.

The ASA said the case had been "informally resolved".

The retired vicar of Cockerham claimed the leaflet exaggerated the risk from earthquakes and gave a misleading impression the Lancashire sites would be very close together.

"This leaflet, called Shale Gas - The Facts, was in fact very inaccurate, rather scaremongering and liable to misinform residents of Lancashire about the supposed dangers of fracking."

He added: "I like to say fracking is safer than cycling... if you take the proper precautions it is as safe as anything else but there are people who are very concerned that there could be hazards, for example earthquakes, because there were two very small tremors at Preece Hall in 2011."

'Claims substantiated'

RAFF spokesman Bob Dennett said the vicar's claims were "laughable".

"We substantiated every single claim we made in that newsletter using peer-reviewed reports some of which came from the oil and gas industry."

He added: "All the evidence we have to date regarding the regulations [of fracking in the UK] is that they are inadequate as there are no specific onshore shale gas extraction regulations in the UK."

The ASA said it found some of the claims were not sourced and it was "inclined" to upheld the majority of the complaints but the case was "resolved informally" after further submissions by both parties.

RAFF said the leaflet's print run had ended and told the ASA any new information it published would be refined in future.

Lancashire County Council is due to hear an application on 28 and 29 January by energy firm Cuadrilla to drill, frack and test at two sites in Little Plumpton and Roseacre.

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