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ASA Adjudication on Ecotricity Ltd

Ecotricity Ltd

Axiom House
Station Road
Stroud
Gloucestershire
GL5 3AP

Date:

17 February 2010

Media:

Direct mail

Sector:

Utilities

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

106731

Ad

A direct mailing about a proposed wind farm development stated “We’ve consulted with the statutory bodies … and all responses are positive so far”.

Issue

The complainant challenged whether the claim was misleading, because he believed that the Cotswolds Conservation Board (CCB) had not been positive about the development in their response.

CAP Code (Edition 11)

Response

Ecotricity said at the time the mailing was sent on 3 July 2009 the statement was correct. They said they had received no negative response from any statutory body, including the CCB. They acknowledged that the CCB subsequently lodged an objection to their wind monitoring mast application, although not the wind farm proposal itself, on 17 August. Ecotricity pointed out that that was quite clearly after the mailing was sent and therefore, the claim was factually correct at the time of writing.

Ecotricity also argued that the CCB was not a statutory body for the purposes of the planning process for the proposed project and were therefore not one of the bodies to whom they referred in the ad. They said they nonetheless consulted with the CCB only over issues related to the methodology of the visual impact assessment they were to carry out for the Berkeley Vale proposal at a meeting in March. They stressed that the issue of the merits of the wind farm proposal were not discussed and, in any case, the CCB had raised no objection.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA noted Ecotricitys assertion that the CCB were not strictly a statutory body for the purposes of their planning application, because the proposed site was outside the area of outstanding natural beauty for which the CCB were responsible. We understood, however, that the CCB had a legitimate role in planning matters and noted Ecotricity had consulted them over issues related to the proposal. We also noted Ecotricity pointed out that the CCB commented on the proposal after the mailing appeared. We noted, however, the complainant provided a letter from the CCB stating that they had met with Ecotricity prior to the production of the mailing and that they did not consider that their response at that meeting had been positive. We contacted the CCB subsequently and they confirmed that that was an accurate representation of the meeting.

We considered that the claim implied that all statutory bodies, with which Ecotricity had consulted at the time the mailing was distributed and which had responded, had given a positive response. Because that was not the case with the CCB, we concluded that Ecotricity had not substantiated the claim.

The ad breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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