The Grim Reaper and Dame Vivienne Westwood visited the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver a damning report commissioned by Talk Fracking, called ‘Whitehall’s Fracking Science Failure’ [1]. Our report proves that the MacKay-Stone report is riddled with false and out of date input data. The input data used in this report is clearly inconsistent with published, publicly available data. The inconsistencies should have been highlighted to Ministers by government advisors immediately upon publication.

The Conservatives and The Church of England for some time have been singing off the same hymn sheet citing the Tory commissioned MacKay-Stone report as their reason to frack England. Dame Vivienne Westwood met with representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury urging him, “Do not allow the Church of England to be suckered into the Tories grizzly agenda to Frack our Green and Pleasant Land, which is about to be turned into a toxic pin cushion”.

Our report exposes the MacKay-Stone report as a dodgy dossier, and England must at the very least follow Scotland and Wales with an immediate moratorium on fracking. Given this evidence, any other position would be highly irresponsible.

Environmental Impact Figures Are Up To 400 Times Worse Than Reported

According to Whitehall’s Fracking Science Failure report, Fracking is not the bridge to a cleaner energy future as the Tories and The Church of England have had people believe. The MacKay-Stone report is a keystone report that the government and industry has relied upon to construct a position to support fracking as cleaner than coal.  MacKay-Stone said fracking would help the UK transition to a renewable energy future whilst helping us reach our climate change reduction targets. However, our report proves that using this method of extreme energy extraction will completely blow out our climate change targets under the COP21 agreement [2] which 195 countries signed included the UK and would send us on a backward course. This also contradicts the aims of The Climate Change Act 2008. The environmental impact of shale gas extraction is proven to be 300-400 times higher than reported in the MacKay-Stone report.

In the MacKay-Stone report, the figure for leakage calculation was only half what it should have been. The figure for gas production is twice what it should have been. On the basis of recent research, fracking would be worse, if not just as bad as coal, and in fact it is worse than imported LNG. Our report verifies that MacKay-Stone skewed findings by omitting figures in the Howarth study (2011) from their final calculations. They claimed they were a statistical ‘outlier’, which would skew all their results. MacKay-Stone’s figures for gas leakage were typically primitive ‘bottom-up’ studies, to the exclusion of more accurate ‘top-down’ studies.  Additionally, the authors did not disclose any of their industry associations and only utilised biased industry directed ‘samples’.

Conservatives Shale Gas Policy Left In Tatters As Keystone Report Proven To Be ‘Fake Science’

Labour have now said they would ban fracking in its election manifesto. The Conservatives are now isolated as the only party in favour of fracking. Their manifesto does a complete u-turn on their promise to give communities a voice in deciding whether or not fracking happens in their local area. The Conservatives would allow drill sites they consider as “non-fracking”, to be authorised as ‘permitted development’, bypassing the same scrutiny and regulations of fracking applications [3].

Church and State’s Dodgy dossier exposed as ‘Fake Science’

The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, and the Environment Working Group chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury, stunned Christians nationwide in January 2017 when it said that fracking was “morally acceptable” because it replaced ‘dirtier energy’, meaning coal.  Like the many MPs who have been misled by the MacKay-Stone report since September 2013, the Church also quoted MacKay-Stone in its ‘Briefing Paper on Shale Gas and Fracking’ [4].

The Church owns 100,000 acres of farmland and has already allowed energy company Aurora to carry out seismic surveys to assess shale gas potential on land near Ormskirk, Lancashire [5].

Dame Vivienne Westwood wrote to The Archbishop of Canterbury on 18th May 2017 [6] expressing her concerns over this new found evidence.  She said: “This report [Mackay-Stone] has been relied upon not only by the church and your working group in deciding the church’s position on Fracking or other forms of extreme energy extraction, but also by many other bodies and politicians to support the case for the shale gas industry. The MacKay-Stone report must now be considered wrong and fatally flawed. Furthermore, the evidence now suggests that shale gas and oil extraction could be considerably worse than coal in terms of its effect on climate change and global warming”.

The Church’s Response Debunked

Pictured with a tank in September 2015, Australia’s Knitting Nannas Against Gas sent a message of solidarity for the UK Nana’s #WarOnFracking campaign with Vivienne Westwood.

This morning, the Mission and Public Affairs Director of The Church of England, The Rev Canon Dr Malcolm Brown responded for the Archbishop of Canterbury saying “We believe that shale gas should not be ruled out as a possible component in a transitional strategy leading towards a low carbon economy, but that a number of stringent safeguards and regulations must be in place.” He also criticised the author Mr Mobbs for his findings despite our report being a compilation of peer-reviewed science.

The Church stated they relied on the findings of the independent Committee on Climate Change in coming to their conclusions. However, the Committee found fracking was not consistent with UK climate change objectives unless three tests were met [7]. The third test was that the government had to offset equivalent emissions from elsewhere in the economy in order to frack. Nick Hurd, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, said that even with the skewed 100 year modelling they used that dramatically under-reported emissions, it would be very hard to find even 50% of them. The Rev Dr. Malcolm Brown does concede however, that if new research comes to light the Church are open to changing its position.

Dame Westwood responds

Dame Vivienne Westwood today responded to Dr Brown, saying that our report does acknowledge that the mathematics in the MacKay-Stone report are correct. However, the problem is the input data, which they took from the Allen report. The Allen report findings and its authors have since been fully discredited. [8]

Dame Westwood pointed out that the Allen report uses a faulty Baccharach sensor approved by the industry and regulators, but this has a serious design fault that causes the machine to significantly under report methane emissions. The engineer, Touché Howard, who invented parts of the machine has been pointing this out to industry and regulators for the last three years but has been ignored. The machine is still used worldwide by the industry to gather data. In her letter, she outlines this is another reason why the MacKay-Stone report is flawed. This is one of the main reasons the MacKay-Stone report is now totally discredited alongside Allen.



[1] http://www.talkfracking.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/20170200-whitehalls_fracking_science_failure-lq.pdf

[2] https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXVII-7-d&chapter=27&clang=_en

[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/election-2017-conservatives-fracking-party-manifesto-tory-gas-shale-domestic-enivronment-a7742496.html

[4] https://churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2017/01/new-shale-gas-and-fracking-briefing-paper-released.aspx

[5] https://drillordrop.com/2016/05/26/fracking-awareness-campaign-launched-as-aurora-prepares-for-seismic-surveys/

[6] http://bit.ly/2rCS0YD

[7] www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/CCC-Compatibility-of-onshore-petroleum-with-meeting-UK-carbon-budgets.pdf

[8] http://www.ncwarn.org/wp-content/uploads/EPA-OIG_NCWARN_Complaint_6-8-16.pdf

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