The cracks in Cuadrilla’s façade

The papers today are running a story about Cuadrilla’s good will payments made to home owners who reported damage after the 2.9 Ml quake of Monday August 26th 2019.

This article in the Times is typical so we shall comment on a few of the points it raises.

A fracking company is offering “goodwill payments” to people who say their homes were damaged by an earthquake that it caused.
Cuadrilla Resources has not disclosed the number or size of the payments but several residents near Blackpool have reported receiving offers of up to £700.

What the article does not tell is is whether there are conditions attached to the offers. Nor does it say whether all those who claimed will be compensated.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s CEO,is quoted as saying

the number of reports of damage were in the “low two figures” and there was no clear evidence that the earthquake had caused them.

So what does the “low two figures” mean? Presumably more than twenty but less than fifty. However, other reports we have seen suggest that at least one hundred people reported damage. Mr Egan seems to be being deliberately vague here. In September Drill or Drop reported that :

“the British Geological Survey’s leading seismologist, Dr Brian Baptie, revealed at a meeting London last night that the BGS had received “several hundred reports” of damage to property.”

We think Mr Egan should say exactly how many reports of damage were made or it might be assumed that he is deliberately and artificially downplaying the scale and significance of these events.

In any case his statement that “there was no clear evidence that the earthquake had caused them” merely serves to demonstrate and amplify the problem that home owners will face next time Cuadrilla or another operator provoke a damaging earthquake.

Mr Egan also went on to suggest that his company had received fraudulent claims. The Times quotes him as saying:

some “obviously egregious” damage claims had been sent to the company. “Lots of people have showed us cracks with weeds growing out of them, for example, or cracks that when you look on [the property website] Rightmove you can see the exact same cracks in photographs taken well before the tremor.”

This is of course an easy accusation to levy without providing any supporting evidence at all. However, when it is clear that those sent out to assess the damage included Public Relations and Social Media staff rather than building surveyors it really is “egregious” of them to start accusing locals of fraud without providing any evidence whatsoever to support their accusations. Of course we don’t doubt that they are speaking the truth, we just think they should provide some evidence.

For the avoidance of doubt we would absolutely condemn any attempt to defraud Cuadrilla, and hope that they have raised this matter with the police. We have emailed Mr Egan accordingly

Dear Francis
I was surprised to read in the press today that you are accusing locals of “obviously egregious” damage claims.

The claims you allude to would clearly be fraudulent. For the avoidance of doubt I would absolutely condemn any attempt to defraud Cuadrilla in this way, and assume that you have raised this matter with the police.

Would you be kind enough to share with me the time and date of these reports to the police and to whom they were reported or otherwise explain why this criminal activity was not duly reported.

Actually we are not holding our breath here as when, 6 years ago, Mr Egan claimed he had been subjected to death threats we emailed him twice asking which police force he had reported them to and when. He did not reply.

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