Opposition to fracking for shale gas has risen to a record high and support is at the lowest level so far, according to a government survey of public attitudes.
The latest findings from the quarterly Wave tracker survey, published this morning, put support for fracking at 17%. This is down from 21% in the previous survey carried out in June and July.
Opposition to shale gas now stands at 33%, up from 31% in surveys in March and June-July.
The survey was carried out before the government’s announcements on Cuadrilla’s appeals over shale gas planning applications in Lancashire.
The gap between people who support and people who oppose is now at its biggest since the survey began asking questions about shale gas and fracking in December 2013.
The survey found people who were strongly opposed to shale gas fracking fell to 11% from the previous high of 14% in March and 13% in June-July 2016.
People who strongly supported shale gas remained unchanged on the previous survey at 2%, but down from 4% in March 2016.
Awareness of shale gas reached its highest level so far at 79%, up from 77% in the previous survey. People who have never heard of shale gas continues to fall. The latest survey put this at 21%, the lowest recorded so far.
Half the people who took part in the survey either said they were neutral about shale gas (48%) or they did not know (2%). The proportion of people who are neutral about shale gas has continued to climb since March 2015, but is still just below the peak of 49% in the survey of December 2014/January 2015.
Reasons for support and opposition
The survey said the most common reasons for supporting shale gas fracking were:
- Need to use all available energy sources – 37%
- Good for local jobs and investment – 32%
- Reduce dependence on coal and oil – 29%
The most common reasons for opposing shale gas were:
- Loss or destruction of the natural environment – 54%
- Too much risk and uncertainty to support at present – 31%
- Not a safe process – 28%
Wave 19 was carried out by TNS BMRB for the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. Fieldwork was carried out between 28 September 2016 and 2 October 2016 using face-face interviews at home with a representative sample of 2,080 households in the UK.
The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on 6 October 2016 that he was overruling Lancashire County Council’s refusal of permission for fracking at Preston New Road and reopening the public inquiry for fracking at Roseacre Wood.