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« Birthday honours? | Main | Le spin! Cartoon notes by Josh »

The state of independence

The Independent is nothing if not independent. Their article on shale gas today is a case in point. It seems that the government is going remove the requirement for public consultation ahead of exploration drilling. A fairly unexceptionable proposal you might have thought, but not for the Indy, which ploughs its very own furrow, steering well clear of the real world. So we have the usual litany of innuendo from the usual dismal suspects - Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and our old friend Robert Gross from Imperial - as well as the casual repetition of long-since-debunked green propaganda: earthquakes and water contamination and the like. 

You would have thought in the very week that the US EPA announced that it had been unable to identify any inherent risks from unconventional oil and gas drilling the Indy might have been a little more cautious. But no, they have always been Independent and independent they will remain.

Independent of science, independent of reason, independent of integrity.

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Reader Comments (94)

And an agent of GazProm?

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Almost independent of readership

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered Commentercharmingquark

Independent of the ability to think for ones self I would think.


Jun 12, 2015 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

The comments show the ignorant loons piling in.

Integrity at The Independent has been missing for some time now as has any technical competence - some of the stuff they've put into print is toe-curlngly poor.

They wouldn't be still killing trees if they weren't a Russian oligarch's plaything.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:22 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Worst of all, independent of inquiry and curiosity. Exploratory drilling is just that: an attempt to discover new knowledge.

When it was first published, I liked The Independent and started buying it. Sigh.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Government is attempting to fast-track fracking by doing away with the need for the public to be consulted before test drilling goes ahead.

The changes, which have been quietly put out to public consultation

Apparently Independent of logic skills too.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:43 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

"The changes, which have been quietly put out to public consultation" Yes, I loved that sentence too. The government trying to sneak it through by public consultation. How underhand. Skimming through the comments on the article quite a few of them seemed to be suitably derisory.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

For some inexplicable reason - well not that inexplicable - I find I am unable to post comments on the Independent.

Much like I am unable to make comments at the Guardian, DeSmug blog ... indeed all these alarmist sites that criticise the government for not allowing them to comment (or Heartland for excluding The Smug)

... but deny sceptics any right to comment on what they write.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:50 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Interesting that they put a picture of a lunatic wearing a mask and sun glasses at the top of the article. Hardly the sort of thing to appeal to the majority of citizens who might like the opportunity to use home produced gas instead of that produced by a despotic tyrant in Russia.

Jun 12, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward


The Indy isn't these days above disappearing "discordant feedback" - I've had several comments zapped - and I think they might be operating an IP address / cookie filter to boot..

Jun 12, 2015 at 11:23 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Anybody'd think The Indy is a mere appendage of FoE PR department.

Jun 12, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Is the Independent using the Grauniads cost cutting techniques of using campaign groups to write articles? They deserve the same level of financial success.

Jun 12, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Excellent post your worshipfullness ^.^

Jun 12, 2015 at 12:17 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Independent of science, independent of reason, independent of integrity."

Nice turn of phrase, Bish. +1

Jun 12, 2015 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Doesn't 'nothing if not' mean 'certainly'?

Jun 12, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCHarlie

The Indy is doing the bidding of others.
1. Russia's gas industry would be damaged by an independent (!) UK shale gas market.
2. Overpriced 'renewables' would be made to look even more absurd than they already are.

My bet is we'll also find more recoverable shale gas than expected and there'll be almost no negative side effects, thus buggering Greenpeace et al's reputation even more.

Jun 12, 2015 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

cheshirered, the Indy, Grauniad and BBC all suffer from Irony deficiency. This is serious, because sufferers are unaware of the symptoms, until they lead to a fatal breakdown of financial support, and then it is too late.

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Not entirely off topic/thread ......

An overseas court has just sentence a lady for stripping naked, upsetting the Gods and causing an earthquake or other natural disaster.

The Indy, Graunie and Beeby will happily blame floods, storms, earhquakes on CO2.

Some countries are very retarded in their belief systems.

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

If fracking makes a mess like this, I do not want it anywhere near me!

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

How does the Independent survive? Even in its much better earlier days it was seriously boring.

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

It's funny how environmentalists are against fracking on the grounds that it might destroy the countryside yet have absolutely no issue what so ever with windmills and mirrors that we do know kill native birds, destroys the countryside NOT to mention the damage done in the mining of rare earth minerals.

The question that should be asked is why it's acceptable to kill rare endangered birds with windmills (something we KNOW happens) yet it's unacceptable to frack even though we know it doesn't destroy the water table (thanks EPA for confirming what we already know)?


Jun 12, 2015 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Entropic man

Isn't UK drilling going to be for gas? You must be much happier with green gas as oil can be a bit messy at times.

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

EM , ie the Guardian reporting on the advantages of gas over oil (though I thought Balcombe was looking at conventional oil that we already extract in Southern England)

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Mailman, no environmental protest groups have ever protested about environmental damage caused by projects that are designed to save the environment.

The reason for this is so simple and obvious that environmental protest groups choose not to lower their masks of integrity, and explain it.

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

EM, thak you for that link.

We can now correctly the term "Blow Out".

A blow out is a power cut caused by insufficient wind to drive wind generators

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Entropic Man
Words mean things. That is not a "fracking well", that is a gas well that is being drilled. Blowouts happen, and cause very local and temporary negative effects. I hope no one got hurt.

Jun 12, 2015 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidCobb

Anti Fracking protests or just trying to relive the glory days of Tywford Down.

Jun 12, 2015 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

EM: you can certainly determine the tone of the publication’s philosophy in the sentence:

"The blowout also released an unknown amount of methane, a greenhouse gas 85 times more powerful than carbon dioxide." (My bold)
(Gasp!) Obviously, no scaremongering involved there! The relish with which the incident is reported also has to make a person suspicious:
…spewed enough oil, gas, and chemicals to leave a ¼ mile gash of dead vegetation and contaminated land.
Don’t you just love a good disaster?

So, let us ignore the simple fact that fracking (for oil and gas) has been underway in the UK for several decades, now, without a single disaster reported, and ramp up the fear to max. My, how scientific.

Jun 12, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent, you must have sympathy for Entropic Man, as he still believes in the Holy Hockey Stick AND the supporting proxies and models. The CO2 levels obviously got to him.

Jun 12, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Here's another panic headline for ya


Large quantities of hydrogen monoxide overwhelmed storage systems and caused numerous deaths and a large amounts of property damage across large areas of Texas and Oklahoma. A similar event occurred recently in the UK.

Jun 12, 2015 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidCobb

Entropic man
How about living next to the facilities pictured here? From a website named without a hint of irony.

Jun 12, 2015 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Jun 12, 2015 at 3:04 PM | jamspid

I was at Southampton Uni before the protests. The road did go through a very picturesque bit of countryside.

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Well EM I'm sure you are quoting a completely unbiased source for your scare story.

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Rob Burton: "oil can be a bit messy at times"

You have reminded me that Christ or "Christos" which is usually translated "annointed" is really closer to "oily one".

Which means that Christians are oil worshippers.

Which I suppose explains why the pope is siding with the oil companies to raise energy prices, cause hardship to the poor and make massive profits for the oilmen.

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermike Haseler

May I commend to you all a little renewable project, cartooned by Josh (near the bottom left of the cartoon), shown by Sir David King in his Walker Institute lecture the other day.

Slide 31; what could possibly go wrong?

Surely no danger of earth tremors with that scheme is there?

Jun 12, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Through the planning system I will be told if my neighbour intends to build a porch and have the opportunity to comment on it.

What is wrong with expecting those who wish to frack having to go through the same process? Is it intended they should be able to circumvent the planning system? This is not clear from the article.


Jun 12, 2015 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

tonyb: You are clearly ignorant of changes to the Town and Country Planning Act over the last year or so (at least in England and Wales). Single storey extensions (including porches) no longer require planning applications, provided they fall within existing property boundaries.

Your neighbour isn't even obliged to tell you before building starts, let alone take any account of your comments

Jun 12, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian


that's rather lame - linking HuffPo - but I grant you ... you are right- HuffPo is a mess.....

Jun 12, 2015 at 6:54 PM | Registered Commentertomo

So in other words Salopian, the fracking process is on fact being brought in to line with current house planning processes....which is EXACTLY as tonyb wants :)



Jun 12, 2015 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman


Should I have the same attitude to your output?

Jun 12, 2015 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


I am less interested in the source, than in the ability of a fracked well to kill vegetation and force the permanent evacuation of houses 1/4 of a mile away. I do not recall seeing this mentioned in the company literature

Jun 12, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

You also seem unconcerned about the killing of rare native birdlife by windmills as well. Or does that not count because windmills are ok in your opinion (after all....those are nothing more than winged rats being killed).


Jun 12, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Mailman, 2:30 pm; we have the same ridiculous dichotomy of opinion up in the Welsh Marches. Powys and Salop have been inundated with planning applications for wind and solar farms and only one single application for one exploratory test drilling for coal-bed methane.

There is a small but vocal (and often abusive to their opponents) lobby in favour of wind and solar applications, to the point of emailing, and putting on-line pro-forma letters in support of these applications to be sent to the local planners and labelling objectors as nimbys. Yet as far as the single CBM test site, this has been objected to by the same groups who are falsely claiming to be fracking.

Jun 12, 2015 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian


Yes, I want fracking to be brought into line with current planning rules. Around here you still need permission for porches according to our local authority planning dept.? It's reasonable that fracking should also be subject to reasonable rules


Jun 12, 2015 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

Tonyb, You say,

I want fracking to be brought into line with current planning rules.

That sounds reasonable.
But this is doing that. Exploratory drilling is not long term.

You don't need planning permission for a marquee if you're having a wedding.

So you shouldn't need planning permission for a short term drill.

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:02 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

M Courtney

If the marquee was going to be in place for several months during which there would be heavy traffic and night time noise I would think it quite reasonable that the marquee should get planning permission.

I have no idea if the link is representative of Most exploratory fracking wells, if so, they certainly need planning permission.


Jun 12, 2015 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

tonyb: "Around here you still need permission for porches according to our local authority planning dept.? "

So where is here? It definitely is not in England or Wales. If you think it is, then either you, or your 'local authority planning dept', is living in cloud-cuckoo land (the only exception being if the building in question is listed, in which case it would be a matter for EH or CADW, not the neighbours).

Jun 12, 2015 at 10:46 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian


Wind farms do not spray toxic liquids across the landscape.

Jun 12, 2015 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Don't exaggerate, EM. Unpleasant, but it isn't Bhopal. Mud, plus hydrocarbons isn't that damaging. And bulk fracking chemicals are chosen to be relatively innocuous.

Jun 12, 2015 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

EM - permanent evacuation?

In this day and age perhaps a few more clicks and Google might get you closer to local reports than Arriana's shrill band of ideologically driven presstitutes.

What is particularly irksome about this "reporting" is the sly inference that this happens everywhere and that it's routine and the slathering of scary. There are sloppy operators in any walk of life (Huffpo being an egregious example...) . One has to assume that the drillers/resource company involved have some legal obligation to both house and compensate those affected *until those victims are satisfied (or the lawyers....).

Of course destroying people's homes, livelihoods and the environment is central to what the exploration & production companies deliberately do - it's their raison d'etre - any Gurdian reader will tell you that's a given.

fwiw - I am an advocaate of personal responsibility and I think that line managers and executives should be at least in part personally liable for stuff - rather than solely the corporate entity and the shareholders. This would sharpen up oversight and due diligence. I don't know the details of this blow out but these things generally these days should happen less with the hazard assessment and mitigation tools that are available to the drillers.

There is a risk / benefit analysis to be had here - you seem happy with prohibition - I'd say that's irrational and unreasonable after looking at the evidence.

Jun 13, 2015 at 12:35 AM | Registered Commentertomo

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