Campaign

New opinion survey claims 57% support for fracking

11th August 2014

An opinion survey for the UK Onshore Operators’ Group out today found 57% of respondents thought fracking for shale gas should go ahead, while only 16% were opposed. 27% said ‘Don’t know’.

The poll, by Populus, also found 42% of those questioned supported the government’s plans to change the trespass law to give operating companies the right to drill without permission. 16% opposed the proposal.

The result is the strongest support for fracking of recent surveys. Ken Cronin, the Chief Executive of UKOOG, said: “This survey shows that most people across the country think that shale gas should be developed.” He added: “Whilst these results are positive, our industry needs to continue to do all it can to listen to and engage with the views of local communities.”

Key findings

  • Gender Support for shale gas was higher among men (67%) than women (47%). More women responded ‘Don’t know’ than men (35% against 19%)
  • Age Support was highest among respondents aged 65+ (70%) and lowest among those aged 18-24 (47%). Opposition was highest among 25-34s (19%) and lowest among 65+ (11%)
  • Social grouping support was highest among ABs (62%) and lowest among DEs (51%)
  • Regions Support was highest in north east England (62%) and lowest in London (52%). Opposition was highest in Scotland (20%) and lowest in north east England (11%)

Poll comparisons

Compared with recent polls, the results suggest higher support for fracking. The latest results from Nottingham University’s on-going survey of public perceptions of shale gas extraction found support had dropped to below 50%, while the latest tracker poll by DECC  put support at 29%.

Comparison of polls on attitudes to shale gas and fracking

Comparison of polls on attitudes to shale gas and fracking

Question comparisons

The three polls asked different questions and took different approaches to providing information about fracking.

UKOOG question: Q.3 Natural gas from shale is found both onshore and offshore, typically a mile or more underground. For the rest of the survey please answer in relation to onshore shale only. Producing natural gas from shale uses a technique called hydraulic fracturing (often called fracking). This involves creating tiny fractures in the rock deep underground, freeing the gas. Fractures are created by pumping a fluid containing 99.5% water and sand and 0.5% approved non-hazardous chemicals down at high pressure. The British Geological Survey has estimated that the UK has 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from shale. If just 10% of this could be recovered, it would be enough to meet the UK’s demand for natural gas for nearly 50 years or to heat the UK’s homes for over 100 years. From what you know, do you think the UK should produce natural gas from shale?

Nottingham University question: Should shale gas extraction in the UK be allowed?

(This followed an initial question which asked respondents to correctly associate fracking with shale gas. Those that failed were eliminated from the survey).

DECC tracker question: The next question is about shale gas. Shale gas is a natural gas found in shale, a non-porous rock which does not allow the gas to escape. Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a process of pumping water at high pressure into shale to create narrow fractures which allow the gas to be released and captured. The gas can then be used in the same way as conventional or natural gas. From what you know, or have heard about, extracting shale gas to generate the UK’s heat and electricity, do you support or oppose its use?

Methodology

The UKOOG and Nottingham University surveys used the internet to ask questions, while DECC used traditional interviews.

  • Populus for UKOOG aasked questions online
  • YouGov for Nottingham University used a panel-approach and asks questions online
  • DECC’s questions are asked face-face as part of a wider omnibus survey

Reaction

A spokesperson for Greenpeace said: “Surely it’s no coincidence that the only survey out there showing this level of public support for fracking has been commissioned by the industry lobby. All independent polls indicate less than half of Britain backs shale drilling, with the government’s own research putting it at a mere 29 per cent.”

  • DECC’s next tracker poll is due to be published tomorrow (August 12th)

Data files for UKOOG survey

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