A Friends of the Earth anti-fracking advert claiming the process is incompatible with tackling climate change and risks contaminating groundwater, has received a complaint for being misleading, which has not been upheld by the UK's advertising watchdog

Fracking rig

A fracking rig

An environmental campaigner’s anti-fracking advert can continue to run after a complaint about the merits of its scientific objections to shale gas extraction was dismissed.

The UK’s advertising watchdog decided not to uphold the complaint, which argued the Friends of the Earth advert’s claims that fracking is incompatible with tackling climate change and risks contaminating groundwater were misleading.

It referenced the organisation’s multiple documents, including expert reports and comments made by UN and UK officials, as sufficient evidence that its content had been substantiated.

The ASA’s ruling on the anti-fracking advert read: “We considered that the average consumer, to whom the marketing communication was directed, was likely to be aware there was political discussion surrounding climate change and that individual nations were putting in place measures to help tackle the problem.

“We therefore considered that in the context in which it appeared consumers would interpret the claim ‘fracking is incompatible with tackling climate change’ to mean that fracking was not compatible with the measures that the UK had put in place to tackle climate change.

“On the basis of the substantiation provided we considered that the claim was not likely to mislead consumers who viewed the web page, based on their understanding of the claim and the overall context in which it was presented.

“We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.”


Friends of the Earth’s anti-fracking advert

The environmental campaigner advert was released on 11 October 2017 on a page on its website, titled: “Fracking and the campaign to stop climate change”.

The heading on the page included the claims in question, and was accompanied by an image of a wave crashing against a barrier and a glass being filled with tap water.

Friends of the Earth has been in hot advertising water before, when in 2017 the ASA ordered it not to repeat misleading claims following a complaint from UK energy firm Cuadrilla and two individuals.

The claims in question were included in a fundraising flyer released 14 months prior, which claimed fracking chemicals could contaminate drinking water and cause cancer.