Cuadrilla and British Geological Survey bond over love of Leonard Cohen in embarrassing leaked emails

 

Senior Reporter

A A A

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded,” runs the opening line of Leonard Cohen’s famous 1988 hit. Those bitterly pessimistic words, green campaigners claim, could now be applied to the extraction of shale gas under Lancashire.

The close relationship between the fracking company Cuadrilla and the British Geological Survey (BGS) has been revealed by a cache of emails in which executives discuss attending one of the Canadian songwriter’s concerts together.

The exchanges, between the private firm hoping to exploit the UK’s shale gas resources and the public body tasked with providing the Government with impartial advice on the safety of the controversial extraction technique, were made in the months leading up to the disclosure of the UK’s reserves last year.

The correspondence, which has been redacted to protect the identities of the employees involved, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Greenpeace, which says it wants to “open up the relationship between energy companies and the Government”.

One email, sent by a Cuadrilla employee to a BGS staff member in March 2013, complains that the fracking firm has been hampered in its efforts to drill exploratory wells in Lancashire due to the large quantity of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) it has to complete. “We have basically been slapped with planning EIA after planning EIA just to drill a well,” they wrote, adding: “Hopefully we can catch up some time this year anyway for a beer.”

Engineers on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston (Getty) Engineers on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston (Getty)
Another email from Cuadrilla to the BGS in the same month describes how the firm’s representatives met a team of scientists from Durham University in which “the topic of media ignorance and incentive for oversimplification came up, as it always does”. Cuadrilla suggests working with the BGS and Durham academics to hold an “immersion experience” for journalists so they can be educated about fracking.

“I am sure we could stump up a fund from several sources to defray the cost,” the Cuadrilla employee writes. “The whole thing is non-commercial. No Cuadrillans in the room or any other actors.” Both the BGS and Durham agree that such an event would be a “good idea”, but in the end it never took place.

In July, the subject of the Leonard Cohen gig is discussed. “A def def yes for Leonard? If so I’ll get tix this week,” writes a BGS staff member to their contact at Cuadrilla, who politely declines the offer with the reply: “I’d better skip Leonard 50/50 chance I’ll be away.”

Displaying an impressive knowledge of Cohen’s back catalogue, Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Lawrence Carter said: “We don’t want to criticise work colleagues for attending Leonard Cohen gigs together, but now that Everybody Knows, let’s hope in The Future the BGS aren’t too Partisan to let Cuadrilla know when there are no Diamonds in the Mine.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said the company “doesn’t feel it is best placed to comment on the merits of seeing Leonard Cohen live”, but added: “We are happy to confirm that we do communicate appropriately with the British Geographical Society and relevant academic institutions as part of our exploration plans for shale gas.”

The BGS did not respond to a request for comment.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Richmond Fellowship Scotland: Executive Director

£66,192 per annum including car allowance of £5,700): The Richmond Fellowship ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Office Junior

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Site Agent

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This traditional family company...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent