The more people know about fracking, the more likely they are to oppose it, according to the results of a government survey released today.
A quarterly Wave Tracker by the Department of Energy and Climate Change has been monitoring attitudes to shale gas since December 2013.
In the latest findings, support for fracking has fallen to 21%, its lowest level so far. Opposition to fracking now stands at 28% and people who neither support nor oppose at 46%.
The survey findings said:
“Support for fracking appears to be linked to awareness”.
“There is more opposition than support amongst those who know a lot about it”.
54% of people who said they knew a lot about shale gas extraction were opposed to fracking, compared with 32% who supported it.
Among those who knew a little about shale gas, 35% were against, compared with 27% in favour. Among those who were aware but didn’t know what it was, 23% were against and 13% in favour.
“The only group to be more supportive are those that haven’t heard of fracking”.
12% of people who hadn’t heard of fracking supported it and 7% opposed.
Awareness of fracking has remained stable over the past 18 months in this survey and now stands at 75%.
14% said they knew a lot about it, compared with 42% who knew a little. 19% were aware of fracking but didn’t know what it was. Awareness was higher for people aged over 45, in social grade AB and who lived in rural areas.
Men were more likely than women to support fracking, confirming the results of other surveys. The latest findings put support from men on 27%, compared with 16% from women. Older people tend to be the most supportive of fracking, the survey said, with 30% of the over-65s in support.
Support for renewable energy has been consistently high, ranging from 75-82%, the survey said. The latest result put support at 75%. The proportion expressing strong support (24%) was lower than in previous surveys. Opposition to renewables was 4%, with only 1% strongly opposed.
Commenting on the findings, Greenpeace UK’s head of energy, Daisy Sands, said:
“The government’s own survey shows ministers’ priorities on energy are at the polar opposite of what the British public wants. Popular technologies like wind and solar are having their support axed, whilst the more unpopular than ever fracking industry keeps getting preferential treatment.”
“It’s becoming quite clear that people are seeing through the smokescreen of propaganda and spin created by the shale lobby and their minister friends.”
“As the government is poised to auction off huge chunks of Britain to the frackers, energy companies will be likely to hit the same wall of local opposition that has stopped Cuadrilla in Lancashire.”
- The Wave 14 survey collected data between 24 and 28 June 2015, using face-to-face in-home interviews with a representative sample of 2,118 households in the UK.