A regional press ad for Third Energy seen on 4 November 2015 stated “GENERATING ELECTRICITY LOCALLY FOR 20 YEARS”. It included a logo for Knapton Generating Station and the years “1995” and “2015 were included, as well as text stating “20 SAFE AND PRODUCTIVE YEARS”. It featured a large image of floodlights in operation.
The complainant, who was involved in local anti-fracking groups, challenged whether the claim “GENERATING ELECTRICITY LOCALLY FOR 20 YEARS” was misleading and could be substantiated, because they did not believe the company had been operating for that period of time.
Third Energy UK Gas Ltd said that the ad was intended as a celebration of 20 years of safe electricity production at Knapton Generating Station (KGS), and that the ad was clearly branded with the KGS 20th anniversary logo. They said that KGS had been generating electricity locally for 20 years using gas produced by a consortium led by Third Energy UK Gas Ltd from the Vale of Pickering fields. That consortium was instrumental in securing the building of KGS by Scottish Power. They explained that, throughout its 20 years of operation, KGS was operated by Third Energy UK Gas Ltd which had been formed in 1979. The company had had various names over that period, including Kelt UK Ltd and Viking UK Gas Ltd. The company was owned by Third Energy Onshore Ltd (formed in 2003), which also owned Third Energy Trading Ltd (previously named RGS Energy Ltd). Third Energy Trading Ltd had purchased KGS and associated assets in 2006, and assumed all associated liabilities. In the same year, the companies now known as Third Energy UK Gas Ltd and Third Energy Trading Ltd signed an operation and maintenance agreement, which continued the former company’s position as operator of KGS. They said that a number of 20th anniversary events had taken place across North Yorkshire since June 2015 and they provided copies of the exhibition panels used which gave some general historical information about KGS. They also provided a copy of a newspaper article from May 1995 about the opening of the power station which referenced Kelt UK Ltd as the operator.
The ad contained only the text “GENERATING ELECTRICITY LOCALLY FOR 20 YEARS”, the KGS 20th anniversary logo, the Third Energy logo, their website address and an image of floodlights. The ASA considered that because it appeared in a local newspaper, readers were likely to have an awareness of KGS and some would be aware of the 20th anniversary. We considered that the ad communicated that KGS had been operating for 20 years and that the claim “GENERATING ELECTRICITY LOCALLY FOR 20 YEARS” therefore related to KGS. We understood that more than one company operated under the ‘Third Energy’ brand and that it would not be obvious to readers which specific company the claim “GENERATING ELECTRICITY LOCALLY FOR 20 YEARS” related to, but that they would expect at least one of the Third Energy companies to have been instrumental in the generation of electricity at KGS since it began operating in 1995. We understood that Third Energy UK Gas Ltd operated KGS and had done since it opened. The company had changed names more than once during that period, but was the same company registered with Companies House. We also noted that another of the Third Energy companies, Third Energy Trading Ltd, now owned KGS, although it had only done so since 2006. Because Third Energy UK Gas Ltd had operated KGS since it opened in 1995, we concluded that the claim “GENERATING ELECTRICITY LOCALLY FOR 20 YEARS” had been substantiated and was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.