PM’s fracking payment plan fails to win majority support for shale gas – poll

attitudes to shale gas YouGov

Theresa May’s idea to give money to people living near shale gas sites has failed to convince a majority to support fracking, according to new research.

The proposal, reported widely a week ago, was introduced by the Prime Minister in a consultation into community benefits paid for from shale gas tax revenue (DrillOrDrop article).

Friends of the EarthA survey by YouGov for Friends of the Earth, published today, found that 33% of people would support fracking in their local area if individual households received a payment of up to £10,000. According to the research, 43% said they would oppose fracking despite the payment and 25% said they didn’t know.

The 10% gap between support and opposition is consistent with the government’s regular survey of general attitudes to fracking (DrillOrDrop report on the latest research). But the proportion of people saying “don’t know” is much lower than the latest government study.

If the YouGov findings could be compared with the government survey, it might suggest the proposal for fracking payments has resulted in a shift in attitude from “don’t know” to both support and opposition.

Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth senior political strategist, said:

“The government are desperate to show support for shale gas exploration, and recent headlines that offered cash payments were meant to bolster, not diminish, support.

“But when you look at the details of the scheme, any cash for households would only be after shale exploration, and would be derived from taxation on profits. It all seems a pretty unlikely and distant proposition.

“What we do know is that the more people learn about fracking and what it could mean for their health and environment, the more opposed they could be. And it’s clear from this survey that they haven’t been fooled by the Government’s latest bribe.”

The YouGov research was carried out last week, after the government’s announcement. Last month, before the announcement, ComRes carried out a similar survey for the consultancy, Remsol. (See DrillOrDrop report on Remsol proposals for a community benefit scheme published last week.)

Alternatives to shale

ComRes, for Remsol, asked people about their general attitudes to shale gas and alternative energy projects, including solar farms, onshore wind, nuclear and biomas. It also asked people about their preference for community benefits linked to energy schemes in their area.

According to ComRes, total support for shale gas extraction, regardless of community benefit, was lower than any other choices. Opposition to shale gas was the second highest of the choices, just behind a nuclear power plant.

attitudes to energy sources ComRes

Community benefits

ComRes asked people to rank their preferences for types of community benefit payments from shale gas revenues.

The most popular choice was reduced local energy bills. The least popular was giving money to local councils. The charts below show the proportion of people who put a type of community benefit in their top three choices.

Age differences

Like other surveys, both YouGov, for Friends of the Earth, and ComRes, for Remsol, found support for shale gas was highest among the over 65s. Both polls found that opposition was highest among people aged 50-64.

Age differences ComRes

Age differences You Gov

Men and women

Both YouGov and ComRes confirmed previous research which found that men were more likely than women to support shale gas and less likely to say “don’t know”.

Gender differences ComRes

Gender differences YouGov

These findings suggest that supporters of fracking may need to persuade women to move from “don’t know” to support to achieve a majority in favour.

YouGov found men were slightly more likely to support fracking than oppose it if payments of up to £10,000 were offered.

Regional differences

Both surveys recorded the highest opposition to fracking was in Scotland. ComRes, for Remsol, found opposition was higher than support in all UK regions.

Regions ComRes

Regions YouGov

Polling information

ComRes interviewed 2,028 UK adults online between 8th and 10th July 2016.

YouGov interviewed 1,704 UK adults on 11-12 August 2016.

78 replies »

  1. Great reply John, i will also look into this information you kindly provided, its good to open all this up once and for all, and then we can see where we are, or should be going.

    • Philip – I forgot CFDs – if you follow the link below you can see the guaranteed strike price for recently awarded CFD electricity contracts for various low carbon technologies. The current market price for electricity is around £40/Mwhr. Forward CFDs are about £85 onshore wind, £126 – £158 offshore wind. I believe new Hinkley is around £92.50/Mwhr. CFDs basically replaced ROCs but the price is fixed and doesn’t fluctuate except for inflation. The main advantage of Hinkley C is that it is 3,200 MW and will produce at a very high Load Factor and provide a continuous very high percentage of our Load Factor, not limitede by weather conditions or time of day.

      Hinkley C at 90% LF is equivalent to nearly 3,000 onshore wind turbine rated at 3MW at a LF of 35% (very high LF for onshore wind). It would take longer to install the wind turbines than build Hinkley C – and the footprint would be exponentially greater.

      By the way, I am not sure personally that Hinkley C is the way forward but I am sure that we need something other than renewables to provide a minimum of 50% of our electricity unless we have a lot more hydro – which we won’t.

    • Hinkley Nuclear would produce 3260 MW at a strike price of £92.50 per MW hour. This figure would be indexed linked for 45 years.

      The Hornsea Offshore wind projects when complete would produce 6000 MW. The load factor is stated by DONG energy (who own the contract) as 42%. Actual energy produced would be 2520 MW. About 25% less than Hinkley.

      The strike price for the first stage of Hornsea is £140 per MW hour. This was in 2014. In 2015 the strike price for other UK offshore wind projects was £115 per MW hour.

      The latest strike price for offshore wind this year by DONG energy is £86.55 per MW hour. This figure will not be adjusted by inflation.

      This is now a comparable price with UK gas power costs.

      As shale gas would costs substantially more to power our gas stations to produce electric it would appear that the future is very bright for wind power and long term energy security.

      Hornsea Project Three – DONG Energy…/wind…/hornsea-project-three-development

      • Hi John,

        The Hornsea LF may be correct but don’t forget how this is calculated – Total MWhrs produced in a year / rated capacity theoretical output in a year. For nuclear the output is the same throughout the year less maintenance which can be planned. Perfect for baseload. Gas / coal can be the same or switched up / down relatively quickly to meet demand requirements. Whilst offshore wind may have a LF of over 40% (actuals are a bit lower) some of the time it will be close to zero and some of the time it will be 100%. So not much use for large consistent baseload and not much use for demand unless the periods coincide with windy days. The more MW of wind installed, the more back up needs to be on standby – i.e. gas. And the more MW of wind installed the more inefficient this gas is operated and the more expensive it, and therefore wind, becomes.

        Good to see that it is not being inflation adjusted. Not sure how even £86/Mwhr is competitive when our current set up is wholesaling at £40/Mwhr – and this includes gas offsetting a bunch of renewables already?

  2. Thanks, all this will keep me off the streets for a while. I agree about Hinkley B and C its outragiously expensive, its dodgy French technology and its funded partly by the Chinese and they could just down tools and dump the lot of us if we disagree with something they are doing,

  3. I have total support for both shale and methane gas fracking and oil fracking. North sea gas reserves are dwindelling, so onshore fracking urgently needed to meet and maintain the country’s gas demands (for central heating and cookers), generate the much needed additional amount of electricity (as gas drives turbines), to avoid electrical blackouts now and in the future, which renewables alone can’t give and the fact that nuclear is the least popular source for energy .

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