Fracking tsar admits deleting emails

| 2nd May 2019
Greenpeace’s Unearthed has revealed a “systematic destruction of information” by the government’s recently-resigned fracking commissioner.

I tend to deal with everything on the day and delete was has been done to avoid any huge build-ups or risk of duplication.

The government-appointed shale gas commissioner – who resigned at the weekend after just six months in the role – has admitted that she routinely throws away notes and deletes emails, a habit the campaign groups says may put her in breach of transparency regulations.

Unearthed had requested all email communications with the UK’s two leading fracking firms – INEOS and Cuadrilla. In response, Natascha Engel provided a handful of emails, but no communications covering 5 October, when she first entered the role, and 30 December.

She said: “I tend to deal with everything on the day and delete was has been done to avoid any huge build-ups or risk of duplication. The same is true of the few notes I take in meetings which I review in the evenings, action and throw away.”

Heavily influenced

However, such activity could be in breach of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Unearthed said.

In her resignation letter, Engels cited the government’s refusal to review seismic activity standards, as called for by industry, after they had led to the frequent halting of fracking tests.

She wrote: “A perfectly viable and exciting new industry that could help meet our carbon reduction targets, make us energy secure, and provide jobs in parts of the country that really need them, is in danger of withering on the vine.”

She said the government was too heavily influenced by environmental and anti-fracking campaigners.

This Author

Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.

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