Small rise in fracking support – latest government survey


The latest findings from the government’s quarterly Wave tracker survey, published this morning, put support for fracking at 18%.

This is up one percentage point on the previous survey carried out in September/October last year but still 11 points below the highest level recorded.


Opposition to shale gas was 31%, down two points from 33% in the previous survey. This was the highest level recorded so far.


The research, for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), saw a fall in people who said shale gas would result in cheaper bills and bring local jobs but a rise in people who said it would reduce dependence on overseas energy supplies.

It also found there had been a fall in people who thought fracking was an unsafe process but a rise in people who thought it would risk water contamination and destroy the natural environment.

The latest survey is the first since the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, approved Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at Preston New Road near Blackpool. But it was carried out before the company began work at the site.

The proportion of people who strongly supported shale gas was 3%, up one point from the previous survey but down from the high of 4% in March 2016.


People who were strongly opposed remained at 11%, as in the previous survey, but down from a high of 14% in March 2016.


The gap between people who support and oppose was 13 percentage points, down from the highest level of 16% in September/October 2016.


The proportion of people who neither support nor oppose rose to 49%, up one point from the previous survey. People who said they didn’t know what they thought was 3%, also up one point.




Awareness of shale gas fell slightly to 75%, down from a record of 79% in September/October 2016. People who have never heard of shale gas rose to 25% in December 2016, from a record low of 21% in September/October 2016.


BEIS said that although many people were aware of fracking, only a small proportion claimed to have detailed knowledge. At Wave 20, 12% claimed to know a lot about fracking, while 42% said they knew a little, and 21% were aware of it but did not really know what it was. Awareness of fracking was higher for those in social grade AB (87%), aged over 45 (86%), with incomes over £35,000 (86%), and home owners (85%).

Reasons for support

  • Need to use all available energy sources – 27% (down from 37%)
  • Reduce dependence on fossil fuels such as coal and oil – 27% (down from 29%)
  • Reduces dependence on energy from other countries – 33% (up from 24%)
  • May result in cheaper energy bills – 20% (down from 25%)
  • Good for local jobs and investment – 23% (down from 32%)
  • Positive impact on the UK economy – 23% (up from 15%)

Reasons for opposition

  • Loss or destruction of the natural environment – 58% (up from 54%)
  • Risk of contamination to water supply – 27% (up from 22%)
  • Too much risk and uncertainty to support at present – 23% (down from 31%)
  • Risk of earthquakes – 20% (down from 21%)
  • Not a safe process – 19% (down from 28%)


Wave 20 was carried out by TNS BMRB for the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. Fieldwork was carried out 14-18 December using face-face interviews at home with a representative sample of 2,138 adults aged 16+ across the UK.


Survey details and summary

31 replies »

    • The public will never support fracking. In the US, where fracking provides a large proportion of our energy needs, only 35-40% of people favor the technology. That should surprise no one. There is nothing to love about an oil rig, and very few people favor any activity that depletes natural resources and takes any toll on the environment.

      But what does that mean? Do people who popularize these polls endorse the idea that energy policy should be determined in a popularity contest? Should we attach the benefits that fracking brings to the questions of whether or not someone likes or dislikes the technology? The majority of people don’t draw the connection between fracking and energy security, lower relative prices, jobs, growth, and wealth, and that connection has been established where fracking is practiced.

      I think that energy policy is better decided by those who understand the energy marketplace, technologies, and regulations. It’s not an easy subject to understand and investments are often very large and very long-term in nature.

    • Some interesting developments in the climate change debate Indicating the climate change report was falsified deliberately for the Paris agreement on climate change to show an alarming climb in global warming when in fact the figures showed no appreciable increase. The so called “pausebreaker” results.
      Now firstly the climate change industry demands enormous payments to developing countries while western countries exchange highly profitable carbon tax points with each other in a dreadful travesty of reducing the effects of the fossil fuel industry on the so called carbon footprint of western countries.
      In other words it is a money making machine for profiteering purposes.
      Looking at what the falsified figures were claimed to be it was interesting to see what the argument was all about.
      This is what I have read so far, there may be more to it, but it is interesting non the less.
      The anomaly in the figures seems to be based upon where they were meaured and what assumptions were made to change the figures.
      Data taken from the NOOA ocean buoys indicated a fall in sea temperatures, not a rise, now that could have had all sorts of causes, including melting polar caps, but is not investigated. The figures were instead it seems from ships crossing the oceans, these showed a rising temperature. It has since been argued that a ship based figure is Inaccurate because ships are warmer than the ocean and hence are an over estimation of temperature. Also there is a claimed multiplier used In the figures, a factor of 10-3 that skews the overall figure upwards to show a climb in temperatures and in fact, if corrected, shows either a decline since 2000 or an overall steady rate.
      This debate as to how the figures became scewed or why the measurements were based upon ship taken results and not buoys remains hotly contentious.
      The result of all this is that at least for now, sea based measurements of temperatures are essentially discredited until this is resolved.
      The only aspect of this which is at least enlightening is that we still do not really know if climate change is being adequately measured and I am sure many will leap on this as some sort of vindication for the climate change deniers, I am Sur we shall see that from one noteable source at least, and several on these pages.
      As a note of caution, I went to several seminars back in the days when I went to such things and one thing was said time and time again.
      That was that global warming leads to global cooling by various means, and that the key change element are the oceans, they will alternately heat up and cool down as the underlying trend continues. The Great Permian Extinction resulted in the oceans heating up after a long process of warming and cooling until no more heat could be absorbed by the ocean currents and the temperature syncline dropped down to melt the ocean bed frozen methane deposits and that led to massive atmospheric heating and the destruction of 90% of all life on earth, the process took many millions of years to develop and to reduce back to normal. The human race have had it easy so far, we have destroyed most of our planetary carbon soaks and are on our way to destroying more of them. Thae message was then, and is now, that we have ravaged and ransacked our planets ability to self manage climate change, we have removed so many of the earths carbon and heat soak capabilities, we may not see the results in millions of years, but perhaps hundreds, maybe a lot less, maybe just decades.
      And then of course there is Fukushima……..

      • Yeah, I know pausebuster and NOAA, must not type so quickly, maybe I need not hurry so much should have a few years left yet?

  1. “Reduces dependence on energy from other countries”. Big rise.

    With Brexit, and Trump, this will be a game changer.

    • I wonder how things will pan out after the Friends of the Earth ASA debacle. FoE have removed all traces of their poisonous nonsense from their website and are no longer promoting anti frack meetings.

  2. Having looked at the survey questionnaire and the results, there are some apparent anomalies.
    1. The survey did not say where the results were collected or what constituencies or indeed if it was across the UK and where in particular.
    2. The description of fracking was woefully inaccurate, it indicated only water would be injected, did not say where from or how much and did not say how waste water would be dealt with and how much of that would result from fracking or the state of radioactivity and radon gas emissions and volume of which to be disposed of.
    3. Only 2138 odd samples were taken, across the whole country? Or just local to the area?
    4. No question if anyone worked for the O & G industry and in what capacity, plumbers, gas boiler installers etc.
    Why not a bigger sample? I would have thought tens, if not hundreds of thousands of questionnaires needed to be filled out across the country including Scotland Wales and Ireland?

    [Moderator: Sample number edited at request of contributor]

    • The survey was carried out across the UK. You can see more details on how the samples are built at

      The fracking section is part of a larger survey on public attitudes to energy and climate change. You can see the full data sets and a copy of the questionnaire used by interviewers at

      • How interesting? Look up the comments on the no to fracking topic posts and there seems to be quite different set of pro fracking comments from the same people?
        Consistent anyone? Not biased of course?

    • And why only 16+? My grandchildren are more switched on regarding shale gas extraction then most adults I know, there ought to have been a say 10 to 16 addendum at the very least.

      • See Phil this is why we are always going to see things differently. Whilst I understand why you’re advocating 10-16yr olds being allowed to determine their own destiny etc etc the problem is that they have still to learn the harsh lesson of ‘life’.
        This is a competitive world and privileges you enjoy living in the UK come about from Capitalism (with a big C). Unfortunately, to some, the downside to capitalism is that risks need to be taken to receive the rewards. What we try and do as capitalists is mitigate the risks by learning from prior mistakes. No one wants to cause unnecessary harm to anyone but the harsh reality of life doesn’t allow for zero risk (unless of course you’re prepared to live under a communistic government that takes all decision making away from you).
        I brand groups into ‘left’ and ‘right’ simply for ease but it’s all about psychology.
        I don’t see people on the ‘left’ as being bad people. Just less ambitious and not willing to take risk.
        In terms of fracking, no one is saying that we don’t care about people. All we want is to test the viability of the practice to see if it can work. We all want cleaner energy but thats not going to be mainstream for 20yrs+. Importing from the ME and US is causing even more harm to the planet as a whole plus puts the UK at a huge disadvantage when trying to negotiate deals without having control over our own source of energy.

        • There is nothing wrong with differences of opinion, it would be a boring world if we were all the same and we would learn nothing from being here.
          I don’t see the only driving force to be capitalism, big or small, I see the main driving force being educated wise freedom of mind heart and soul, and the freedom to be and act intelligently and not be ruled by self styled elites be they capitalist or communist.
          If we stay in this current confining prison of the mind we will never see the true potential of our people and the planet we live on. You say take risks, I say take intelligent risks and prepare for failure as well as success and make plans to correct mistakes if they occur.
          You suspect the young and would exclude them from decision making, I say include the young, they will be tomorrows decision makers, the more they experience the advantages and pitfalls of democratic decision making the more they will be encouraged to do so in the future, not sit back and let someone else make the decisions as is promoted now. Don’t ignore the young, one day you will be in their hands.
          I have no faith in left right polarisation, its a fraud like all misunderstood labelling. In fact I try not to label anyone or anything, since we are not labels we move and we think and we change. I am not the person I was twenty years ago, my children grew up and changed and so are there children, nothing stands still, everything is change, labels only pigeon hole and reduce people to easily manageable cyphers, ubermenchen and untermenchen for example.
          Don’t label people allow them to be who or what they are mostly we don’t know who we are we change from day to day, second to second, how can we label others?
          Regarding energy we need to do the intelligent thing, we don’t need to try fracking here it has been done across the world and in spite of claims it is harmless it has done enormous harm and all that will emerge eventually. We must as a matter of urgency invest in renewables it is the ony intelligent way to go. The existing sites may go ahead, but we will be watching them closely, if the government want this and will not regulate or monitor the we will have to, but I suspect you will prefer 24 regulatory presence and monitoring to local people doing their job.
          The future must be handed intact to our children, not some frazzled burnt out poisonous husk for them to deal with.

          • I listen to everything your side is saying but we need to be realistic. The hard facts are:

            1. Renewables are 20+ years out. One of my friends is in the wave turbine industry. I’ve got investments in ‘green’ and in fact have involvement with a company developing new technology in batteries. So it’s in my interest for this to boom but it’s not going to happen immediately and in meantime we need to get energy from somewhere. Paying farmers to blight the landscape with inefficient solar panels isn’t going to be the answer.
            2. Heavy subsidies are propping up Coal which is one of the worst pollutants out there and this isn’t stopping any time soon.
            3. North Sea has seen it’s day due to oil price. Again I’ve invested in there prior and know plenty of info on the various fields.

            You seem to suggest you are happy to import the fracked gas from the US? Surely this argument then comes down to being simply- NIMBY?

            The problem the UK has is that all the scare stories are ‘online’. Online is one big fake world. Yes the US has been terrible in the way it has gone about fracking but that simply cannot happen here due to the regulation. America is vast and their planning is entirely different. They use chemicals that no one knows what they are but in the UK that’s not possible.

            What my side is trying to say is to simply let us prove it’s both safe and viable. If neither of those things is possible we will pack up and go it’s as easy as that.

            It has nothing to do with ‘elite’ telling the little guy what to do. If your side would simply be more open to discussion I can guarantee you would reap the rewards at a local level. But this divide between both parties means those things aren’t happening. And it’s not a bribe in any shape or form. If a housebuilder wants to develop a large site there have to be perks thrown in. That’s simply business and it can benefit everyone.

            • There you go again, I did not use one derogatory remark and you just had to get the NIMBY epithet in there didn’t you? Like you I read the responses but its sometimes so hard to extract anything from the tirade of personal abuse hooks and barbs it ends up being hardly worth the effort.
              But at the risk of further abuse I will try yet again, but this is the last time.
              Your claim of +20 years to achieve renewable energy is much shorter than that, Given the finance the expertise and the all ready available technology we could if we really went for it, do it in four years, maybe five. But it would need total commitment and the fossil fuel power base would delay it and stifle it at every opportunity to continue the present monopoly.
              So practically how would we do it? Simple enough, we give tax breaks and incentives to do it in the timescale only, the longer it takes the less breaks are due the cheaper the product the more the incentive Practically it will probably involve an enormous boost of new jobs, many thousands, vast turnaround in research and development. New production methods, use schools universities, scientific bodies to boost the speed and efficiency of the product. Also storage, new tesla battery farms, heat exchangers, local power schemes, wind water solar tesla generators all together. All of that will produce the future and whole new industries will spring up and export the innovations to whoever wants or needs them. It will motivate the country, not divide and conquer it like shale will.
              There are no problems, only solutions by another name.

            • Mr. M, with all due respect, renewables are not twenty years out. We may never be able to rely on a 100% renewable energy system. We will certainly not be there in the next 50 years.

              Those systems need energy storage to work. Even if we get all the kinks worked out with the technology, and they become economic at some level, they won’t be able to provide the storage needed so that a grid could always supply power reliably.

              I suggest you read the following to understand why this is so:

            • There is another aspect of risk that is worth exploring, and that is, who takes the risk and does the risk end with the process of high pressure unconventional well stimulation in shale?
              There are several answers to that.
              1. The risk of the operator, funding PEDL’s buying or leasing land, organising and operating exploration, funding drilling, and if viable fracking and extraction and distribution. Buying millions of gallons of water, sand, propants, pump’s vehicles and transport, legal disposal of millions of gallons of polluted radioactive waste water, decommissioning and reparation, cleaning up spills, accidents, failures of wells, polluted waterways and so on. All apparently on loans and hence the hell for level drive to frack. The risk of associated companies being left holding the financial baby when the operators go bankrupt having moved all their finances to offshore tax havens.
              There is then the risk to the environment, long and short term, the risk the company will declare bankruptcy after the gas runs out. The risk to the tax payer for our government awarding the process tax benefits and turning a blind eye to illegal activities. The tax payer again for funding what regulation bodies and policing is necessary. The risk of accidents on unsuitable roads and restrictions. The risk to the tax payer for legal costs from the narrow minded planning rules being emasculated and redefined to exclude proper investigation and decisions. The risk of damage to health, water and air pollution, the risk of damage to agricultural land and produce, livestock and feedstuffs. The risk of long term pollution well after the process has finished and the waste and pollution emerging at the surface and in water aquifers. The risk to locals of noise light, massive continuous lorry movements night and day through villages towns and narrow lanes. The risk to tourism as many fracking sites seem to be deliberately placed in beauty spots, for perhaps the reason to destroy and intimidate communities.
              The risk to house prices revealed in the now released(after a long and shameful wait) government paper. The risk to global warming renamed as climate change to reduce its impact.
              The risk to us all of having our country partitioned by razor wire, no go zones and privatised carved up landscape.
              The risk to our children, not just by fracking itself, but their children inheriting a polluted country that may take centuries to repair and recover.
              The risk of fracking being a dead duck in more ways than one and this country having wasted vital time energy and money when it could and should have been spent on true renewables, true sustainability and real energy security for the foreseeable future.
              I call that many many many risks too far.

          • Phil C. I agree with your argument in this post. Informed risk taking or intelligent risks as you called it are important for advancing society both in term of technology and socially. However the angle and view of extreme environmentalist and anti fracking warriors and your side are intelligent risk equal to pre cautionary principles which equate to “lest not do it because it contains POTEMTIAL risk”. While informed risk taking and intelligent risk means the balance of the LEVEL OF risk and benefits. Intelligent risk also imply that if the risk can be mitigated and the benefit outweighs the potential risk then it is a risk worth taking.. While the risk of developing fossil fuel is a contentious issue it is the balance of risk/neccessity that need to be assessed when a national policy is determined.

            • That is perhaps where we differ and just to be clear once again, I am not anti anything that is a negative, like atheist agnostic apolitical and so on I get tired of the name calling, as I have said before, labelling ends up in events like the holocaust and Rwanda and Gaza and so many many others, history is soaked in the blood of labels so best to stay away from it. I prefer to be positive, pro life, pro freedom, pro intelligence, pro wisdom, pro community, pro family, pro clean renewable unpolluted future for future generations.
              My problem with fracking is that is all ready seen to be high risk, too high a risk to have it onshore in our densely populated beautiful countryside.
              It needs an example, I will give you one, take for example nuclear power, lauded as “the power of the future” “free energy forever” then we are told it is low risk, easily contained and managed, no problem. Then comes the fires at Winscale, nuclear waste dumping in the oceans, Chernobyl, and now the horrendous events at Fukushima, recently results were released from the latest robotic probes beneath the Fukushima daichi reactor 2. It revealed that the core melted down through the base and is pouring highly irradiated water into the sea. These are the figures and some frightening realities.
              1 seivert will make you vomit, cause severe flue like symptoms and skin lessons, 5 seiverts will kill you in two months, 10 seiverts will kill you in days or hours, 100 seiverts will kill you in minutes. Results from probes revealed 530 seiverts of radiation in the melted core, below the core it rises to a horrifying 5000 seiverts, and the water poured into the core to stop nuclear fusion is getting into the oceans. A plume of radiated water follows the currents to the west coast of USA, and all ready since the explosion in 2011 cancer rates are climbing in Japan and USA, to alarming figures. As water evapourates it it carried in the winds across USA and has all ready raised radiation levels in the atmosphere and falls in the rain.
              All sea life in the Pacific is either dead or dying.
              That is from a process that claimed to be an acceptable risk.
              I see fracking as, if not in Fukushima scale, then at least in risk terms, to be unacceptable and therefore I say so and will continue to say so. This planet may be facing an Extinction Level Event with Fukushima, I see no reason to further endanger this country with provenly disastrous fracking.

            • Just a few figures you may find useful in the radon debate.
              Background radiation levels in UK are higher than zero, but low in exposure terms as follows:
              Background radiation continues to be the main component of observed levels of gamma radiation recorded at RIMNET sites. The observed UK annual radiation dose rate ranges from around 0.5 mSv to 1.0 mSv with an average of less than 0.7mSv

  3. I would suggest such scrutiny of the Cheshire questionnaire would also be required? Just to balance the debate? No, that would be just too silly, and patronising.

  4. The truth is like medicine. It is good for you but everyone hate it. Fossil fuel is similar. Everyone use it but everyone hates companies that produce it. Similarly everyone want to be rich but almost all hate rich people. And so if you do survey on fossil fuel almost always that you get less people supporting it.

    [Moderator: Post corrected at contributor’s request]

  5. PhilC-my comment was not directed to you. There are others who seem to have less understanding of the need for market research to be complete and professionally conducted., as long as it produces the answer they want,

  6. Looking at the above graph and the latitude of error that is likely – I suspect nothing has changed in any statistically significant way since the survey results started. The argument continues to be polarized unfortunately.

  7. Interesting letter in the Guardian today from Roy Thompson Emeritus professor of geosciences, Edinburgh University:

    • Academic research suggests that, in geological terms, fracking for shale gas in Scotland will be economically marginal at best (Scottish government launches public consultation on fracking,, 1 February). Comprehensive data for 25 US shale-gas systems has recently been made available, detailing their geochemical, rock physics, and production decline. The information allows a geostatistical analysis of gas yield and comparison with other regions. I find Scottish shales to be below the thermal maturity needed for effective gas generation, at low reservoir pressures and so geologically faulted that they do not provide a match with even the poorest of the US systems. The deeper, structurally simpler and higher carbon content shales in the north of England seem to have more potential. If current hydrocarbon exploration in Lancashire and Yorkshire turns out to be unsuccessful, or cost-effectively borderline, then that would provide the clearest of signals that a US-style shale gas industry is an extremely unlikely outcome for Scotland. Hence, the best response to Holyrood would be to suggest that the government await developments south of the border.

  8. Last Friday I signed off and let nPower continue to make the argument over the weekend,

    This Friday I sign off and let Scottish Power continue to make the argument over the weekend.

    The UK obviously need to spend more resource on the NHS/Social Care. Will people be content to also pay an increase in energy costs at the same time to satisfy certain elements who want to take choice away from them?

    It is quite obvious why the antis want to stop any demonstration of the cost effectiveness of fracking in UK. They know it will go against them, so will try any means to keep that away from the public at large. Meanwhile, every increase in energy prices makes that a very fragile strategy. A few more weekends and there will be a queue with their own picks and shovels!

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