Support for fracking has risen slightly, according to the latest survey in ongoing government research. But the proportion who “strongly support” fracking has dropped to its lowest level.
Opposition to fracking has remained steady at 31%, still the highest level since the survey began.
As in previous surveys, the largest proportion of participants said they neither supported nor opposed shale gas. This remained unchanged at 46%.
The quarterly survey of public attitudes on energy and climate change, known as the Wave Tracker, first asked questions about shale gas and fracking in December 2013. The latest survey, Wave 18, interviewed more than 2,000 households in late June and early July 2016. The findings were published last week (28 July 2016).
In the latest poll, support for fracking stood at 21%, up two points from the record low in March 2016. Overall, support remains eight points behind the peak of 29% in March 2014.
According to the latest survey, the proportion of those most enthusiastic about fracking had halved since the previous survey. The authors said:
“Strong support for shale gas was significantly down from 4% at wave 17, to 2% at wave 18.”
The proportion of people strongly supporting fracking is down from a high of 6% in December 2013.
When asked why people supported fracking, participants gave these main reasons:
- Need to use all available energy sources (39%).
- Reducing dependency on other fossil fuels (25%)
- Reducing dependency from other countries for the UK’s energy supply (25%).
The proportion who said they opposed fracking has risen ten points, from 21% to 31%, in the two and a half years since the question was first asked. Opposition in the latest survey was unchanged from March 2016. Strong opposition to fracking has remained about 12% for the past six surveys.
Asked why they opposed fracking, participants the main reasons given were:
- Loss or destruction of natural environment (55% – up one point compared with March 2016
- Risk of contamination to water supply (25%) – down eight points on March 2016
- Too much risk / uncertainty to support at present (26%) – down six points on March 2016.
Gap between support and opposition
The gap between supporters and opponents has narrowed slightly since the survey carried out in March when it was at record levels. In this survey, 10% more people opposed fracking than supported it.
Neither support nor oppose
In the latest survey, 46% said they neither supported nor opposed shale gas and fracking. This was unchanged on the previous survey. 2% said they didn’t know how they felt about it, down from 4% in the previous survey.
The reasons given for neither supporting nor opposing were:
- Didn’t know enough (67%)
- Hadn’t heard of fracking (12%)
Those claiming they could see both positives and negatives in shale gas rose from 8% in Wave 17 to 11% in Wave 18.
According to the latest findings, 78% of participants were aware of fracking. This is the highest level since the question was first asked in 2012. It was four points up on the findings in the previous survey.
Of those who took part:
15% said they knew a lot
43% said they knew a little
19% said they were aware of shale gas but did not really know what it was
22% said they hadn’t heard of shale gas or fracking
(figures are rounded)
According to the survey, awareness higher in the following groups:
- Social grade AB (90%)
- Aged over 45 (88%)
- Incomes over £50,000 (94%)
- Homeowners (86%).
Fae-to-face interviews were conducted between 29 June 2016 and 3 July 2016 with 2,114 households.