Self-proclaimed "hippie" windmill kingpin Dale Vince has been slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for violating truthfulness requirements in a direct-mail ad campaign.
According to the ASA, Vince's company Ecotricity stated in a mailshot regarding a planned windfarm in the Cotswolds that it had "consulted with the statutory bodies … and all responses are positive so far”.
However it turned out that in fact Ecotricity had met with the the Cotswolds Conservation Board (CCB), responsible for an officially-designated area of outstanding natural beauty near the planned windfarm site, and the CCB's view of Ecotricity's plan had been far from positive.
The ASA says that "the ad breached CAP [Committee of Advertising Practice] Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) ... The ad must not appear again in its current form".
Ecotricity has been noted for sailing a little close to the wind before. The firm has said that "for every £1 you spend with us through your electricity bills we spend another £1 building new sources of green electricity... that's not a promise, it's a fact".
In fact this is only true if you spend a relatively small sum with Ecotricity (less than £460 in 2008, for instance). So it isn't really a fact as most people would understand the word.
Vince also made the headlines last year for publicly speculating that a UFO might have been responsible for a spectacular failure in one of his wind turbines which saw a 65-foot-long blade rip itself free of the hub and pinwheel away across the adjacent countryside. In fact, of course, a routine mechanical failure was the cause.
Fortunately the mishap occurred at a rural site while nobody was around, rather than one of Ecotricity's more urban, populated installations - for instance the one at the Ford factory in Dagenham. But nobody even considered this line of thought once Vince's colourful UFO speculations hit the press.
Vince was later quoted as saying "the coverage made what would have been a pretty unpleasant experience a lot lighter". There would seem little doubt of that.
The hippie ecobiz kingpin has previously expressed himself unimpressed with the ASA, when it failed to uphold complaints against energy giant EDF's "Green Britain" ad campaign. He commented on his blog, "Zerocarbonista":
However many sugar coated low carbon blandishments EDF comes out with the truth is in the numbers – they are the world’s biggest nuclear waste polluter, one of it’s [sic] biggest fossil fuel polluters and their contribution to new renewable capacity and to green issues in the UK is truly pitiful.
EDF says it will create 1,000 megawatts of UK renewable capacity over the next five years. Ecotricity, after 13 years' work, currently has 220 megawatts of British windfarms. ®