The 12 Fact Checks of Xmas

$RC9EWAGThis post provides an overview of the Fact Check of the Energy Bill – a project that crowdfunded over £15,000 in just 2 weeks back in August.

Full Fact have been getting their teeth into the claims around energy policy, and have now published 12 fact checks.  They’re all listed below…..

Some have caused disputes, yawns (sometimes there’s no way to jazz up energy policy) and sometimes been inconclusive. But all are based on independent facts, free from political interference, which is what we all want.

My take on the fact checks are listed under each topic as I digest them (blame the silly season for being slightly behind on the last few).  I’d really like to hear your take, so get in touch.

There are plenty within industry who are keeping Full Fact on their toes and questioning some of their assertions, particularly on their nuclear costs fact check – keep it coming!  There’s some good debate happening in the facebook comments too.

What the project really needs now is more publicity of the fact checks – it’s how we can hope for change as the legislation is going through Parliament.   So….

  • Share on facebook and twitter  (follow Full Fact on facebook, and @EnergyBillFacts)
  • Forward to your MP or other political connections
  • Share with your local newspaper or journalists

12. Would early closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind cost £100 million?
11.  What effect on the public purse would closing the Renewables Obligation early have?
10. How much will closing the Renewables Obligation early save on your bills?
9.   The proposed Renewables Obligation cut off: how much onshore wind capacity loses out?
8.  Jobs lost in onshore wind
7.  The UK’s renewable energy  target
6.  Are we missing our targets on renewable energy?
5.  What do Brits think about wind farms?
4.  The Energy Bill and the Salisbury Convention
3.  Is new nuclear energy cheaper and more reliable than newwind power?
2.  The Conservative Manifesto’s onshore wind pledge
1.  How many jobs in the UK oil and gas industry?

More fact checks are planned as the Bill enters the House of Commons.  If you hear or read something about the changes to onshore wind energy policy that could do with a fact check – contact me!!


FACT CHECK 6:  Are we missing our targets on renewable energy?

View Full Fact report:  Are we missing our targets on renewable energy?

Liz McInnes, Labour MP and Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Andrea Leadsom*, had differing views on the UK’s progress in generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The good news is, we’re on track and have met our interim target of 5.4%.  The bad news is, the European Commission has suggested we might not meet the 2020 targets.

The “energy” referred to comprises of electricity, heat and transport.  Electricity generation has made up the bulk of this so far, so when Government slash renewable electricity as they have done, we should be expecting to see some positive priority being placed upon heat and transport… any day now… but I’m sure no-one is holding their breath for it!

* Don’t worry everyone, she’s not a climate change denier anymore.

FACT CHECK 5: What do Brits think about wind farms?

View Full Fact report: What do Brits think about wind farms?

So Full Fact have found that Onshore Wind isn’t the most popular renewable technology, as stated by Caroline Flint MP.

I have to admit I’m disappointed that in their report, Full Fact don’t mention attitudes towards non-renewable technology.  Admittedly, it wasn’t part of the fact being investigated, but I think it provides important context.  So allow me to briefly do so….

Not many people know that since 2012 DECC have done a quarterly survey to find out what people think about electricity generation – asking around 2,000 different people the same questions each quarter.  I think it’s a very revealing sample of what the UK really think.

You can check out all the data on this DECC page, but what is most interesting to me is that over three years, support for Onshore Wind has consistently been between 64-70%.  Compare this to nuclear which has ranged between 33-42%.

A question on attitudes towards shale gas was introduced in February 2014, and so far has shown support within the range of 21-29%.

The latest DECC survey released on 4 August, mysteriously removed the questions on renewable energy.  We can see why they did that now, but how uncomfortable for the Government to justify culling the forms of electricity generation that its own data showed was the most popular?  And since Full Fact have also shown that onshore wind is cheaper than nuclear….

If any political party or politician had a consistent approval rating of over 65% for three years wouldn’t they be delighted?!

it all starts this week

Just a quick note to say that Full Fact will start releasing their fact checks this week. I am told they will take one or two facts each week, and put them under scrutiny.  I don’t know what facts they have picked, or what they will say, but like many others, I await with interest.

I’ll make sure they are all added here, but to make sure you don’t miss anything, follow them on twitter, like their facebook page, and subscribe to their newsletter.

Progress Update: Full Fact in Full Swing

I have transferred all the pledge money to Full Fact and work is well and truly underway.

I received all pledge money on 23 September, but before I could transfer that to Full Fact and hand over control of the project, there were a few conversations I had to complete with Full Fact’s Director…. mainly around how they would manage the budget and their research process.  I was pleased to hear they have identified a small pool of experts who can be called on to look at different issues surrounding energy policy, rather than just relying on one person.  We also discussed the risk of spending lots of time on one or two big issues which could chew through all the funding and potentially not have as much impact.  This is their “thing”- they know what they’re doing and very patiently talked me through it. Full Fact are well respected for their work in other areas and are used to managing tight budgets, I trust them to do the same for energy policy. I admit it’s been a bit difficult to hand over all funds and control to them but that’s the only way they can ensure complete impartiality, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because Full Fact received the pledge money on 29 September, my intended Stages I and II have now merged into one, but that shouldn’t negatively impact on the project.

I would like to be clear on the process from this point.  Full Fact are now monitoring statements made by politicians, members of the House of Lords and the media (or anyone else who gets airtime) surrounding onshore wind and UK energy policy, and selecting claims to fact check.  It won’t be possible to fact check everything, they need to balance managing a tight budget whilst achieving the project aims.

My involvement will be from the sidelines – helping collect transcripts, suggesting what could be checked and basically anything useful that might save them time (and therefore budget).  I’ll have absolutely no say on what they select to research, or have any reviewing rights.  They will keep me updated with progress, which I will update on this blog.

As you would expect, I’m busy with my own job search, so I welcome any suggestions for fact checks you have heard or read (from either side of the debate).  Please drop me a line and I will pass on to Full Fact, or feel free to contact the Full Fact team directly on team@fullfact.org.

We have a Fact Check!

crowdfunder successHi and thanks to everyone who pledged large and small to get us to the target of £15,000. I’m really pleased that enough people agreed that this needs to happen!

I want to assure you that all money received through crowdfunder will go to Full Fact, the independent, non-partisan fact checking organisation to check claims made by politicians and the media as the Energy Bill progresses through Parliament.  I will be regularly meeting with Full Fact to ensure the money is being spent wisely, but just to be clear, I won’t be playing a part in their reporting, as they operate totally independently.

I’ll report back on this blog regularly, and soon I’ll be posting up some big thanks to all pledgers and getting prizes out to the lucky winners.

Please bookmark this site, and come back often. You can follow Full Fact on facebook and on twitter @FullFact and I’ll be keeping @EnergyBillFacts up to date too.



If we reach the crowdfunding goal of £15,000 to start Full Fact on their research, I’ll keep this site updated with progress and news around the UK’s Energy Bill.

You can contact me here with any claims that could do with a fact check.

Here’s hoping for success and getting started asap!