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Chartered rogues and spivs

Also published while I was away was a report on fracking by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. James Verdon has done a detailed analysis of the contents and it looks as though it was pretty shocking stuff.

The best place to start is on the very first page, which shows two schematic images of the fracking process. In both cases the scale of images is such that the depth of the well is smaller than the height of the drilling rig, implying that fracking is taking place at a depth of less than 100m, rather than the actual depth, typically 2 - 3km.

Similar images are provided on page 4, and nowhere are images with the correct scales shown. The images are so out of scale that the "impartial, evidence based" claim immediately cannot be taken seriously. The moment you see an image like this, you know what to expect.

Amusingly, James has also discovered that the author of this "impartial, evidence-based" report is a former Green party candidate and a Barton Moss protestor. Doesn't that tell you everything you need to know.

It's interesting to note that the charter of CIEH claims that it exists, among other things, to "promote and maintain high standards of practice and professional conduct among its members and others engaged in the field of environmental health". Perhaps they need to add a paragraph about "occasional deception".

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Reader Comments (25)

The report is jointly by Scientists for Global Responsibility and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Jul 30, 2014 at 8:30 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Thanks Philip. Scientists for Global Responsibility. Another way of assuming moral superiority through the simple device of a name. Ask them how they prioritise global concerns, as Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus has done in great detail (see Matt Ridley in the WSJ last weekend), and the moral superiority evaporates, to be replaced by difficult trade-offs, where any of us can be wrong. But faux moral superiority feels so much better and requires far less effort.

Jul 30, 2014 at 8:51 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

So it's another red
parasitess swamp that begs to

Jul 30, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterPtw

They were schematic images not scale drawings. Sounds like a reviewer trained at the McIntyre school of nitpicking.

Jul 30, 2014 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

quite right. The authors did draw attention to it being a work of fabrication by including the BBC copyright symbol beside it.

Jul 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterVarco

The BBC used the same schematic in this propaganda piece.

Jul 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Ignore the troll!

Jul 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterRKS

How I despise "greens", everything about them is dishonest down to their choice of colour. Using lies to bolster prejudice and blind conviction NEVER works. Only the blithely stupid don't know that.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterCeetee

If they did give a true indication of the depth of fracking they would also probably put Balrogs down at the bottom.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Terry - I had a look at that BBC piece.

It's not just the shale gas mock up picture that's worth a chuckle. The picture further up of the UK (showing areas where fracking may occur vs national parks etc). Check out the miles / km scales.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

The BBC had a very balanced phone-in programme on Radio 4 yesterday on fracking . It included the CEO of Cudrilla who batted away the doomsters with consummate ease. The highlight of the programme was when a paid officer of Friends of the Earth phoned in and was immediately exposed on air. The BBC alarmingly admitted that they knew his identity but had not deemed it necessary to tell the listeners. The real worry was the gap between the plausible and technical explanations as against the pitiful understanding of the public. It even included a GCSE student who stated that she had studied fracking at school, from her question it is more accurate to say, when she was indoctrinated with a load of environmental nonsense.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

How many people who read the BBC item noticed the miles / km scale error, no where near 97% I would guess.

Trefor Jones
See the reply I got from the BBC Complaints Department (aka the BBC is always right department) on unthreaded.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

"The BBC alarmingly admitted that they knew his identity but had not deemed it necessary to tell the listeners."

- This actually makes me feel sick. I'm having an increasing amount of difficulty in understanding these people. 'Sorry, we were wrong' just isn't going to be good enough when the house of cards eventually tumbles.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

In the BBC news last night claims were made that water had been contaminated ''at several fracking wells''. The EPA, when pressed by a Senator about pollution of water tables said that there was no documentary evidence of water contamination in the US.

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

I'm rather amused by the top comment (at 1037) on the BBC piece by someone called Marc (that's a ? in my book, c not k)

"Fracking is not a solution, it is a temporary and unsustainable moneymaking scheme.
There is more than enough tidal, wave, wind and solar energy on our island to provide our annual generating requirements."

Dream on, laddie!

Jul 30, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

Can anyone give me the details of the BBC phonein discussed above. Sounds interesting!

Jul 30, 2014 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Well, to be fair, the first image does say *Not to scale* on it. ;)

Secondly, whilst it is a valid point to suggest that the illustrations imply an incorrect scale regarding the nature of drilling depth and the relation to the water table specifically, it's a bit of a push to moan that there were no images that illustrated the scale, given they would probably be as long as the pdf... So not realistically printable or ppt-able.
It might actually be an idea to create a to-scale illustration of a shale rig and drill depth on a website though. The scroll bar would be very small, and you'd have to pull it all the way to the bottom of the article to see the end of it... It could include all the geological strata, water table etc. This might go a long way to demonstrate the myths about drill depths and the like... Just a thought.

Jul 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustin Ert

Bish see this

and Alex Cull's comment on unthreaded.

Probably worth it's own thread.

And here's a reminder of what was said on BBC Feedback earlier this month:

Roger Bolton: So when you've got guests on the programme, you're saying to programme-makers "You must research their background, who finances their research, and if it's relevant, you must tell the audience, so the audience properly understands where people are coming from".

Alison Hastings: And 99% of the time, the BBC do that, anyway - that's part of the researcher's job, you would always want to understand, on issues like this, where people are coming from, and it happens all the time. It's rarely a problem for the BBC.

Jul 30, 2014 at 1:42 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

CIEH have form. See how they handle the issue of smoking in cars -

Yes smoking is bad, but to ban the smoking in cars and get the police to do even more work is just stupid. What next, banning smoking in homes?

Jul 30, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

Bish, the BBC phone in was on You and Yours. The anti frackers are having a hissy fit because only Egon was on the programme, though the emails and phone ins where over 80% against fracking.

Jul 30, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

BBC have form

Hilary Gander Ruth Jarman both told bbc feedback about their involvement with CaCC and other climate groups (Met Office decadal forecast story - Jan 2013) ) BBC left it out..

The CaCC were organizing a phone in, and thanking people that did.

I'm sure this happens all the time (any topic)

Jul 30, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Worth a google, and a look at anti-frack groups face book pages, twitter, websites, etc..

finishes with: - Finally please don’t weaken your case by letting on you’re a professional protestor

example below....

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Radio Phone In’s

If you get that very rare opportunity to hold someone important to-account please don’t waste it.

Today’s BBC Radio 4 programme ‘You and Yours’ devoted the whole 50 minutes to the subject of Fracking, and Francis Egan big shot of Quadrilla was in the hot seat. Sadly though some who were fortunate enough to get on air lost the opportunity to slate Egan by not being better prepared.

It should be remembered the likes of Egan will have had professional media training but don’t let that put you off. A short well researched question will have even the best of them stumbling.

Finally please don’t weaken your case by letting on you’re a professional protestor, or that a rig will spoil your view.


Someone posted to BBC details to frack free surrey groups as well. (this was 2 minutes of googling)

Jul 30, 2014 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The question is not just of scale and the greens' wish that fracking does happen close to the water table (so they can close it down), it is a case of impossibility.

Normal practice is to drill multilateral wells and undertake multi-stage fracs along each lateral (or near-horizontal section) of drillhole. If you are drilling a horizontal well, you do not want your fractures to be near-horizontal. Its much better if they are near-vertical fractures which therefore are almost normal to the direction of the well. That way a larger frac network is achieved. For that to happen maximum stress has to be greater than overburden stress, and minimum stress has to be less. If you attempt to create a frac job at shallow depth, all you will succeed in doing is overcoming the overburden stress (lifting the overburden), giving sub-horizontal fracs, which would be parallel to a horizontal well. Even at depth, the stress regime (strike-slip for example) may be such that fractures are sub-parallel to the wellbore, leading to the well / frac being a failure.

No company is going to attempt a frac job at such shallow depths. Apart from not wanting to interfere with the water table, they know they would be wasting their time and money, because they would produce sub-horizontal fracs.

Secondly, it takes a certain depth before a well can be deviated via the mechanical processes involved to a horizontal attitude,

The graphic at issue here is totally misleading for the above technical reasons, apart from any environmental impact assessment issues which would preclude such shallow drilling.

Jul 30, 2014 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Justin, it would have been easy AND informative to make the drawing to scale. The 2km to 3km depths are INFORMATION ... and very important information.

The map graphic in the same article was 3x as tall.

Jul 30, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Justin, it is possible to draw to scale. See

Jul 30, 2014 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

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