Here, at MSW towers, we're passionate about our coastline. So when we were sent some info, plus a detailed investor's pack, proposing plans to install a gas works at a beauty spot in the UK, we gawked. As impossible at it seemed, stranger things have happened - look at the big plant being built in York on protected moors. And sometimes, these big energy plans go through unchecked and unopposed.
Anyway, the website has now been confirmed as a fake (see HERE). The real story here is that the page was set up by the UK Youth Climate Coalition, whose aim is to "mobilise and empower young people to take positive action for global climate justice" and the purpose of this site was to raise awareness of a similar project in Mozambique.
Forecast: West Cornwall
Detailed plans of the 'gas works' depicted a wire drawing of an oil tanker perched off the coast of Gwithian, one of the UK's most popular surfing beaches (see image above). But that image had been lifted from documentation that surrounds the Rovuma LNG project in Mozambique and had been altered by some digital wizardry, turning the original image into an artist's impression and posted on the St Ives LNG fake website.
A few days ago, an official petition had been launched opposing the Gwithian site, and a Twitter account for St Ives LNG had launched a public consultation around the works. But the owner of that consultation is in fact the UKYCC, and it all comes full circle.
Speaking with MSW today, a representative from the UKYCC said: "The LNG project in Mozambique is set to destroy the local habitat, relocate many of the residents and ruin their traditional fishing way of life. At UKYCC we think this is devastating and the impact to not only their local community but the global climate is set to be extremely destructive and all of this is funded in part by the UK tax payer at a sum of £1 billion.
"We aimed to highlight the UK governments hypocrisy of claiming to a world climate leader while simultaneously and somewhat slyly funding extractive fossil fuel projects abroad. JA! are a group in Mozambique who are fighting the injustice of the project (see HERE)
They added: "We hope we didn't cause to much concern over the prank and glad you have shared the reveal on your website."
If you haven't heard, Mozambique is now home to Africa's three largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects: the Mozambique LNG Project (Total, formerly Anadarko) worth $20bn, Coral FLNG Project (ENI and ExxonMobil) worth $4.7bn, and Rovuma LNG Project (ExxonMobil, ENI and CNPC) worth $30bn -- that's according to news website Al Jazeera.
As part of this 'prank' an investor's document had also been released, offering a thorough and detailed timeline as to when works would be completed. The tactic is a good ol' bait and switch -- lure people in with a sensational development, only to then direct that anger towards the real issue over at the Africa site.
There's a few more elements that are in here for the shock factor too -- and you got to hand it to them, it's too close to the bone for someone outside of Cornwall to write. In the 'plans' it was revealed the 'developer' (who claimed to be a subsidiary of Total) would not compensate fishermen or the tourism industry for any financial loss due to the works and went on to say the works would only take place during the summer months. Now, that's tapping into some local anger.
Also, there's the fact the registered office doesn't exist, the website is made in Wix, the contact goes to an Outlook address, various typos and on and on. Plus, no one had heard about the plans (but during COVID, planning has been relaxed), seemingly no MPs or interested stake holders had a clue. Of course, the land around Gwithian is for sale, but that's a bit further west at the Sandy Acres site.
Savvy marketing campaign? Or annoyance? Or just damn right confusing? No matter what you think about it, and you may have spent a weird few hours being concerned, the UKYCC sure did create a decent effort here. Now, who's for the triple bait and switch where Total actually come in and say "it was us all along!" Like a comical bad guy from behind the curtain. We're joking of course.