'It’s come to light that the government’s fracking ‘tsar’ has written to the media. In the letter, she effectively asks editors to stop “feeding the narrative of fear” and “scare stories” about earthquakes. Frack Free Lancashire has called the letter “a dangerous attempt at manipulation of the fracking debate”.
A new fracking tsar
Natascha Engel is a former Labour MP, now turned Shale Gas Commissioner for the government. It gave her the job on 5 October to work independently but in tandem with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). As the government said:
Engel will be a direct communication link between local communities, the shale gas industry and the industry regulators. The commissioner will be a contact point for residents, to listen to their concerns, refer them to relevant and factual research and help improve communication with regulators and industry.
But far from getting off to a smooth start, Engel caused uproar when a letter she sent to the media was leaked.
The leaked letter
The campaign group Frack Free Lancashire alerted The Canary to the letter. It claims it originally appeared on Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake’s website; the page has since been deleted. But Frack Free Lancashire has a copy.
It effectively calls on the media to stop its negative reporting about fracking; specifically focusing on earthquakes. Engel says of the media:
By reporting fracking events that cause tremors of 1.1… as earthquakes… the media is feeding the narrative of fear that originates from those who have been spreading scare stories because they want to stop fracking at all cost.
Where is the science in this debate?
She goes on to say the “real story” the media should be reporting is the amount of gas that’s available. And she brands opposition to fracking as “anti-progress”:
Read more: A government tsar is ‘trying to manipulate the media’ over fracking