“Balcombe effect” continues as survey shows people turn against fracking

The latest research into public attitudes to fracking shows that support is continuing to fall, despite promises of money for communities where shale gas development goes ahead. This suggests that an apparent turn against fracking shown in a survey last year was not a blip.

The research by the University of Nottingham was carried out from January 22-24 among 3,751 people. It was the biggest of a series of surveys carried out since March 2012.

Up to September last year, the surveys appeared to show growing acceptance of fracking and shale gas. September’s findings, however, showed signs for the first time of growing public concern and a fall in approval.

Summary results for January

Support for shale gas extraction In June 2012, 52 per cent said shale gas extraction should go ahead in the UK and 27 per cent said no. Support rose until the Balcombe protests, after which it fell and has continued to decline. Despite this, support still stands at over 50 per cent. Opposition to fracking fell until the Balcombe protests, when the trend reversed. The No figure is now back to 27 per cent. 20 per cent said they didn’t know.

Water contamination Nearly 45 per cent now associated shale gas with water contamination, up from 35 per cent before the Balcombe protests.

Clean energy The trend towards greater acceptance of shale gas as a clean energy source is also reversing. Nearly 45 per cent now don’t associate shale gas with clean energy, the highest level since December 2012. The figure of 30 per cent of people who do associate it with clean energy is the lowest figure since December 2012.

Cheap energy Nearly 50 per cent thought shale gas would be a cheap source of energy, but even that figure is down from a peak in July 2013. The proportion who don’t think shale will bring cheap energy now stands at nearly 30 per cent, the highest it has been since March 2012.

Greenhouse gas emissions The association of shale gas with lower greenhouse gas emissions has remained constant at about 30 per cent since July 2013. But the proportion who associated shale with higher greenhouse gas emissions has risen steadily since the same date and now stands at nearly a quarter.

Earthquakes Nearly 50 per cent of people associated shale gas with earthquakes, compared with nearly 30 per cent who did not. The difference between these groups is the smallest of the surveys so far.

Community compensation 86 per cent thought energy companies should compensate communities directly affected by fracking. But the proposed payments are not regarded as a community benefit, rather than a way of buying off potential local opposition. 57 per cent believed the proposed payments were designed to get community support for fracking.

Read the full findings by clicking here: 131787519-public-perceptions-of-shale-gas-in-the-UK-January-2014-pdf

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