The Advertising Standards Agency has upheld their own complaint against the company intending to install a wind farm on land above Shap, just outside the Lake District National Park. The ASA felt the claims made by Gamesa Energy UK about the amount of electricity that would be generated were misleading and the complaint was upheld. The ASA Council found that two advertising circulars sent to residents in and around Shap breached CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code clauses of Substantiation and Truthfulness.
The ASA had confirmed they were formally investigating Gamesa Energy UK in April this year, after a number of complaints were made. Some of these complaints were informally resolved with Gamesa agreeing to change their wording in future advertisements.
Christian Barnes, Vice-Chair of COST [Community Opposed To Shap Turbines (Cumbria, UK)], said: “We can now say with reference to an independent and unbiased third party that on counts of ‘truthfulness’ and ‘substantiation’ Gamesa UK have been found wanting. While we are pleased that the Advertising Standards Authority Council has made this adjudication, amended adverts and direct mail to be sent in the future cannot change the fact that material already distributed to local people to promote Gamesa’s development was misleading about the productivity of the windfarm with which they propose to blight the landscape around Shap.”
In a brochure delivered to households in the area, Gamesa had claimed that there would be financial benefit through “additional rates to Eden District Council”. COST contended this was not true as although local councils collect business rates the income goes to Central Government. The ASA agreed with the complaint which was informally resolved. Gamesa gave the ASA their assurance that future advertising material will not imply that Eden District Council will benefit financially from the construction of the renewable energy park.
Georgina Perkins of COST said: “Gamesa have misled residents on at least two vital issues: They have implied that our local council will benefit financially from their plans, and they have incorrectly cited as fact figures relating to carbon emission savings and electricity production. The figures are almost irrelevant; the message here is that we cannot believe what we are told by a company seeking to profit at the expense of our landscape and our economy”.
COST also complained about Gamesa’s use of carbon emission “savings” figures. The ASA required assurances from Gamesa that in future the figures used will be accompanied by an explanation, which previously they had either failed to do, or had only added as a footnote.
(A complaint about a picture used in a brochure was not upheld. The ASA considered that some readers may infer that the turbine on the front page represented the turbines at a proposed Shap site, however they did not feel this was likely to mislead because of the contrast between that and the turbines in the photomontage at the back of the brochure of Shap.)
1. COST was formed two years ago when Gamesa Energy UK applied for planning permission for an anemometer. Patrons include Lord Bragg and Sir Chris Bonington. More information is available at www.nowindfarm.co.uk
2. Gamesa Energy UK Limited (GEUK) is a subsidiary of Spanish multinational, Gamesa Energía. They held a public exhibition showing their plans for a “Renewable Energy Park” consisting of ten 100m tall turbines last November, anticipating their planning application to be in around Christmas. No application has yet been submitted.
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