They say that you can tell as much about what corrupt news organisations fear by what they don’t report on, as what they do. I have no idea who they are and indeed I may have even made them up but I generally go with what’s intuitive, fill in the blanks and attribute my twisted logic to a shadowy they.
On the evening of the 21st of January 2016 the regional BBC news program, North West Tonight, didn’t report that Trafford “Tories model” Council unanimously voted to reaffirm their ban on fracking choosing instead to run items on a middle aged couple introducing a Tuk Tuk to Chester’s transport system and an award winning chippy in Crewe which will hopefully confirm to readers that I couldn’t possibly be making this shit up.
Not only did the TORY led Council vote 56 to 0 with 4 off fishing to reaffirm their fracking ban they also agreed to approach the Oil & Gas Authority to remove the recently announced PEDL for the area and more importantly to directly challenge the Secretary of State for Energy Climate Change effectively going to war with their own party over the Tory’s flagship energy policy. Trafford Council are one step short of calling themselves Naomi Kleins Earth Warrior Army and setting off in a campervan convoy to man a Community Protection Camp at the #UptonBlockade against the evil iGas. But according to the BBC this isn’t news.
Perhaps at this point I should provide a bit more background information for those less frack aware. A PEDL or more precisely a Petroleum Exploration and Development License is given to fracking companies, ironically by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. They’re drawn up in huge blocks of land meaning that all a fracker has to do is negotiate access with your freehold owning neighbour and you can suddenly find that you’ve got a towering fracking rig at the end of your garden replacing the former glorious views of the Pennines or herds of Wildebeest sweeping majestically across Knutsford Common.
It’s important to mention at this point that the Borough of Trafford was already subject to a PEDL but that particular tranche of land was mostly based around an already heavily industrialised part of the hood. It’s also important to mention that Trafford Borough Council subsequently passed a motion banning fracking until it can be proven safe essentially banning it forever as the process has been proven to be highly dangerous on multiple levels.
Fast forward to December 2015 and the latest round of PEDL awards and vast areas of Greater Manchester and North Cheshire have now been sold off. Most importantly the entirety of Trafford Borough’s hugely affluent Altrincham, Timperley, Bowden and Hale famous for being the residential choice of Manchester United football stars such as Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs. This is quite literally a whole other ball game.
Quite obviously spooked by this development one of the very first things that Trafford Council does in 2016 is to call a meeting to discuss this development and reaffirm its ban on fracking. They’re most likely aware of a poll conducted in the Manchester Evening News that showed that 97% of Mancunians are against fracking, bearing in mind that it’s almost impossible to get 97% of Mancs to agree upon anything.
However, even though the new PEDL affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK’s third City the BBC somehow decided that this wasn’t newsworthy and that a chippy was. Now although as a Northerner I find it hard to argue about the reportage of a top drawer “chippeh” I would have thought that a quarter of a million South Mancunians would have appreciated being told that their Council was prepared to go to war with Westminster and their own party to try and stop them and their families from being poisoned and their currently booming property prices being reduced to the equivalent value of a 3 bed semi in Raqqah.
The BBC have form when it comes to fracking, especially regional BBC. They’ve repeatedly smeared folk who protest fracking as “professional protesters” or “out of towners” minimising and most often ignoring the fact that anti fracking Protectors have huge local support. They’ve attempted divide and rule tactics reporting on an incident of apparent violence towards a local Woman by anti fracking protesters which was not only shameful but highly dangerous.
In the meantime Judge Sanders has slammed the extreme violence that was routinely meted out to locals and Protectors from all over the UK and the World by the most brutal “policing” at Barton Moss, the shameful #UKfrackingscandal The BBC reported upon none of this, well, they reported that accusations of police brutality had been made by sending their reporter out for a lovely day with the police to report back that everything was lovely. There’s footage of it on YouTube. It would be comedy gold if it wasn’t so wtf?!?
Only recently during the latest anti fracking community blockade at Upton the BBC have done their very best to make the Community Protection Camp look completely detached from the local community failing even to report that a local Councillor was arrested at the eviction of the camp by iGas and their henchmen.
In the meantime they wheel out their procession of “Professors”, one to tell us that the worst that we can expect from fracking is a bit of bother on the school run to just recently when a “Professor” stated that fracking has a very small earthquake risk when Oklahoma has already experienced hundreds of earthquakes this year alone during an ongoing earthquake epidemic as folk there pray that the big one isn’t next. I recorded the BBC North West Tonight program that he said this on just to replay it over again to make sure that he really did say this.
It’s against this backdrop that you have to judge the BBC’s non reporting of the Trafford Council decision, the non reporting of the New York State fracking ban, the Oklahoma earthquakes and the two months that it took for them to finally report the Porter Ranch catastrophe in Los Angeles. Especially don’t expect a Panorama expose on fracking any time soon.
When presented with their glaring own goal over the non reporting of the Trafford decision the BBC amateurishly wriggled and struggled. Either that or a cleaner started manning their Twitter feed getting into a hoo ha with folk. If you’re going to work for state TV you have to be very thick skinned about it and churn out the bullshit with your head firmly down, don’t engage with people whatever you do otherwise it all goes bandy. BBC’s argument was that they’d already reported the Trafford Council fracking ban from way back when. Other peoples argument was that the latest PEDL now affects hundreds of thousands of Mancunians and that the Council found it serious enough to gather and vote unanimously to oppose it.
In the Twitter exchange it was remarked that what with the BBC’s staunch defence of having been so extensive in their fracking coverage recorders were being set that very night for their reporting on Bolton Council declaring that fracking will never be allowed on Council land and would be opposed.
Of course this never featured on BBC North West Tonight. Instead there was an item about a Goat that gets taken for a walk on a lead.
The BBC is one of the most insidiously evil organisations in this land because it feeds on the trust of ordinary Brits who still, in their thousands, implicitly trust it and it could be easy to get frustrated with them but it’s pity that should be reserved. Due to the obvious restrictions placed upon them they can’t report on one of the greatest stories in the storied history of these isles. How after an industry had rampaged its way across vast swathes of America and Australia it was stopped here, in “Jerusalem”.
Stopped in its tracks by an army of “crusties and colonels” as somebody wrote. People from all walks of life working tirelessly against the multi billion dollar oil and gas industry with oiled up politicians and police that will beat you out of the way if you dare protest. It’s a story that’s now entered British legal history, British folklore and will travel down through time but the BBC in all it’s love of a cheesy schmaltzy community story can’t even report on it which is deliciously circuitously karmic.
Author: Smokin’ Joe Brotherton
Follow on Twitter @MancunianSpring