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Our Constitution

Constitution and Terms of Reference 

1. Introduction

The Task Force on Shale Gas is established in September 2014. The Task Force on Shale Gas aims to provide a transparent, trusted, independent and impartial platform for public scrutiny, discussion and information about shale gas exploration and production in the UK. The Task Force acts with total impartiality and independence from its funders, and from stakeholders with firmly supportive or firmly opposed views on issues. Fully respectful of the legislative, regulatory and planning decisions already in progress within the UK government, the Task Force seeks to augment both the public’s and policymakers’ access to full and fair information, enabling well informed decisions on the future of shale gas in the UK.

2. Task Force Goals

The Task Force has the following primary goals:

Independent scrutiny: Gather and scrutinise comprehensive information about both the potential benefits and the legitimate concerns associated with shale gas exploration and production. Identify the unanswered crucial questions surrounding the future of shale and its extractive technologies in the future UK energy mix.

Public information: Provide a trusted and transparent ‘go-to’ source of online information, for the public and policymakers, that accurately presents fully informed and fact-checked representations of all those with a perspective on the major unanswered questions about this energy source.

Discussion and debate: Host discussions and meetings on issues and research into shale gas exploration and production, to be platforms for robust and well informed debate, where the views of all sides can be fairly represented.

Research: Commission and peer review research into the questions related to shale gas exploration and production.

Communication: Communicate to interested stakeholder groups and the UK public at regional and local levels.

f) Final report: Publish a comprehensive report of research and findings.

3. Responsibility  

The Task Force shall be independent of its funders but is responsible for delivering a report of activities and progress to its funders every 6 months. The Task Force shall be responsible for the proper discharge of any delegated activities or responsibilities within its mission and goals as determined by its Chair. 

4. Composition

4.1 Structure The Task Force shall consist of the following, whose responsibilities are set out in Section 5:

a)The Chair.

b) Two Task Force Panel members.

c) A Secretariat provided by Edelman. Any change that affects the composition of the Task Force shall be agreed by the Chair.

4.2 Task Force Year The Task Force year shall commence on 1 September of each calendar year and end on 31 August of each calendar year.

4.3 Eligibility A member of the Task Force, in whatever capacity, shall immediately cease to be a member of the Task Force if s/he resigns by notice in writing to the Chair.

4.4 Task Force Panel Membership Membership on the Task Force Panel is by invitation from the Chair. Members of the Task Force Panel will be selected at the discretion of the Chair, drawn from across a number of fields relevant to shale gas exploration and production. Task Force Panel Members may not nominate a deputy to act on their behalf. 

5. Terms of Reference 

5.1 Activities The Task Force shall undertake:

a) Audits and reviews of publicly available studies, surveys and position statements on shale gas. 

b) Visits to shale extraction sites.

c) Commissioning of independent research into new or unanswered questions about shale gas exploration and extraction.

d) Organisation of discussion forums via traditional media and digital platforms.

e) Distribution of information about shale gas issues to the public, via digital platforms and traditional media.

f) Annual reports on its finances, activities and research.

g) Open publication of all correspondence, data, research, meeting reports and minutes.

h) Never to represent the views of funders, whether from industry or from other stakeholder groups, to the government or the media. The work of the Task Force, cannot be terminated by funders on the basis of the findings of the Task Force on issues relating to shale gas. 

5.2 Chair Responsibilities The Chair’s role in fulfilling the mission and goals of the Task Force is expected to include the following:

a) Exercising sole executive authority over the fulfilment of the Task Force’s mission and goals as set out in Sections 1 and 2.

b) Agreeing the mission, goals, strategy and tactical plans for the Task Force, in consultation with a Secretariat provided by Edelman.

c) Leading and exercising budgetary authority over the Secretariat, which will execute the Task Force strategy and tactical plans. Agreeing KPIs and evaluating implementation progress.

d) Recruiting a Task Force Panel to provide expert scrutiny of Task Force research and information programmes. Managing Task Force Panel members’ contributions to Task Force activities and communications. Holding authority to dismiss Panel members who violate the Task Force Terms of Reference.

e) Inviting experts on specific issues to act as Advisory Experts, to peer review specific reports and research produced by and/or commissioned by the Task Force.

f) Diversifying the representation of industries in the funders of the Task Force. Creating partnerships with major stakeholder groups who may enable the Task Force to fulfil its mission and goals without becoming funders.

g) Leading site visits and public engagement tours to gather information and interrogate stakeholders about the technologies and impacts associated with shale gas. 

h) Commissioning independent research into shale gas exploration and production.

i) Acting as spokesperson for the Task Force before traditional and digital media, and at conferences and symposia.

j) Ensuring the impartiality and independence of the work of the Task Force from its funders.

k) Communicating a financial report and activity update to funders every 6 months.

5.3 Task Force Panel Responsibilities The Task Force Panel will typically be responsible for:

a) Assessing the cases for and against shale extraction and related technologies.

b) Identifying areas for the Task Force to commission independent research or host published research.

c) Peer review of research commissioned or hosted by the Task Force, alongside Advisory Experts invited by the Chair to augment peer review.

d) Attending quarterly meetings with the Chair and Secretariat of the Task Force.

By invitation from the Chair, Task Force Panel members may contribute to Task Force:

a) Written reports.

b) Website and social media posts.

c) Media comment.

d) Press releases.

e) Site visits.

The Task Force Panel members shall have no voting rights. They shall act in a purely advisory capacity.

Task Force Panel members shall speak for themselves and express their own viewpoints, but do not have authority to speak on behalf of the Task Force. 

5.4 Secretariat Responsibilities The Task Force Secretariat, provided by Edelman, shall operationalise and implement the Task Force mission and goals as set out in Sections 1 and 2. Led by an appointed Secretariat Lead, it shall report to the Chair.

The Secretariat’s role in fulfilling the mission and goals of the Task Force is expected to include the following:

a) Advising on and executing the annual operations plan and budget, as approved by the Chair.

b) Ensuring that an appropriate infrastructure system (technology and financial) is in place to enable the delivery of approved plans.

c) Preparing feedback reports and meetings with the Chair, using traffic light formats to communicate progress.

d) Advising on the development of KPIs to measure both Secretariat performance, and the Task Force’s progress against its mission and goals.

e) Liaising with accounting and legal advisors as needed on contracts, HR and other legal matters/activities as necessary. 

6. Meetings

The Task Force shall normally meet four times per year.

a) Two of these meetings shall be held annually to deliver a report of activities and financial management to funders.

b) One of these meetings shall be held annually to present a report on the issues and research completed by the Task Force. This may take the form of a public conference, and include public debate of emerging issues related to shale gas exploration and production.

Where dictated by specific needs or issues, the Task Force may organise additional meeting(s) as required.

The Task Force and any sub-groups should endeavour to use informal discussion groups, virtual meetings and other electronic media (e.g. tele-conferencing, webconferencing, etc) where possible. The Task Force should aim to hold at least one virtual meeting per year.

Minutes and/or action lists shall be prepared in a timely manner following each Task Force meeting and issued to the public via the Task Force website. Minutes shall be reviewed and agreed at the next meeting.

All meetings of the Task Force or any sub-groups shall be conducted in accordance with good practice and the principles of Robert’s Rules of Order, including:

a) transparent and open debate, and

b) free and courteous contribution by all members of the Task Force and invited attendees, and

c) respect for the opinion of others.

7. AUTHORITY

Approved by the Chair: 1 October 2014