UK fracking support at record low –  latest government survey

aa summary

The latest findings from the government survey of attitudes to fracking in the UK puts support at its lowest level since the question was first asked.

The results, published this morning, has support at 16%. This is three percentage points down on the previous survey carried out in spring this year and 12 percentage points down on the response in December 2013.


Opposition to fracking was up, at 33%, after falls in the previous two surveys. This was the highest level recorded by the survey, also reached in autumn 2016.


The gap between opposition and support was the largest recorded by the survey, at 17 percentage points.



This survey, commissioned by Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is the second carried out since Cuadrilla began work at its shale gas site in Lancashire in January 2017. It is the first since INEOS submitted shale gas exploration applications for Derbyshire and Rotherham.

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“The trend is evident – this industry continues to lose support day by day in spite of efforts to alternately buy local support and to attack local opposition using the sledgehammer of legal injunctions.

“It is clear that the fracking companies’ attempts to demonise protest are backfiring and that they are failing dismally to get the social licence they need to operate in our communities.

“Many those that expressed an opinion in favour of fracking cited increased employment, lower bills and using less fossil fuels as their reasons. These arguments are pushed strongly by the fracking PR machine but are almost totally without substance. As people become aware of the reality we expect to see a further decline in support for fracking as the scales fall from people’s eyes.”

Ken Cronin, of the industry body, UKOOG, said:

“These findings shows that the majority of respondents are either supportive or ‘don’t know.   The industry will continue to work with local communities in an accountable manner with full disclosure.”

Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“Communities don’t want the unnecessary industrialisation of our countryside for shale gas we don’t need. And more than three-quarters of people support renewables, so the government should listen to their own opinion polls, stay true to their manifesto promise, and support offshore wind and solar instead of a new fossil fuel industry.

“Concern about climate change is at its highest since 2012, and to meet our climate targets, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. The fracking industry is pulling UK energy policy in entirely the wrong direction and the public is right to be concerned.”

Rose Dickinson, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:

“This makes bad reading for the industry because they know they are desperately fighting an unwinnable battle for support. In just the last week INEOS has taken desperate measures to try and stop peaceful protest, and Cuadrilla had to deliver machinery under cover of darkness – all in a bid to try and force fracking on communities that don’t want fracking.

“The extent to which this industry has failed to win over the public is undeniable, opposition is increasing not only where fracking is proposed, but across the whole country.”

More on support and opposition

According to the survey, strong support for fracking had fallen to 2%, the lowest level recorded.

Strong support

Strong opposition has risen for the second consecutive survey to 13% but is still one percentage point below the highest ever recorded by the survey in March 2016.

Strong oppose

Participants who said they neither supported nor opposed fracking remained the largest proportion in the survey at 48%. This was down 1% on the previous survey and was the first fall since the survey carried out in June 2015. The number who said they didn’t know was up one percentage point at 3%.


Awareness of fracking was 78%, up from 75% in the previous survey. Participants who said they knew a lot was still only 13%, but this figure was up from 10% in the spring. Participants who said they had never heard of fracking or shale gas was down slightly at 22%.


BEIS said awareness of fracking was highest among participants in social grade AB (90%), aged over 65 (90%), with incomes over 50,000 (91%) and homeowners (88%).


reasns for support

The most common reason for supporting fracking remained “the need to use all available energy sources” (42%). This has continued to rise since December 2106 and the latest figure is an increase on the previous survey of seven percentage points. Other reasons for support, such as reducing dependence on other fossil fuels, cheaper energy bills and reduced dependence on other countries remained fairly constant. But “good for local jobs and investment” fell from 30% to 26%. “Positive impact on the UK economy” also continues to fall.

reasons to oppose

“Loss or destruction of the environment” remained the most common reason for opposing fracking. This saw an increase of eight percentage points in this survey to 68%. Other reasons, such as “risk of contamination”, “too much risk/uncertainty”, “risk of earthquakes”, “unsafe process” and “use of chemicals” saw falls of between nine and four percentage points.

Of participants who were neutral or did not know whether they supported or opposed fracking, 73% said this was because they didn’t know enough about it.


The Wave 22 survey for BEIS carried out 2,097 face-to-face interviews in homes among a representative sample of UK adults, aged 16+. The interviews were conducted between 30th June 2017 and 4th July 2017 on the Kantar TNS Omnibus, which uses a random location quota sampling method. The questionnaire was designed by BEIS and Kantar Public drawing on a number of questions from previous surveys.


Wave 22, the latest BEIS quarterly public attitudes survey

130 replies »

    • “Loss or destruction of the environment” remained the most common reason for opposing fracking.’

      This is very significant. Greater engagement with the big picture is always a positive. Clearly those surveyed are not convinced by the ‘robust regulation’ promises from both the industry and the present government.

  1. Assuming that climate considerations are included, it is good to see that environmental reasons for opposing fracking are cited as the most important. What is clear is the need to spread the word amongst those who know little about it.

  2. I hope Ineos are looking forward to Wave 23 – the results of their giving up on persuasion and trying to bully people in to submission would have been too late to make it into the fieldwork here. Should be interesting.

    You really wouldn’t want to be one of Cuadrilla’s many PR companies today would you?

    • Or Ineos…they appear to have spent considerable sums ‘educating the public of the safety of fracking and the chemicals they use’ – not going well.

  3. Yawn. Anyone that I speak to that is remotely intelligent is fully supportive based on there being regulation in place, UK Shale is completely new and therefore ALL scare stories are based on ‘what if’. It didn’t help that Cuadrilla didn’t conduct their 3D seismic tests correctly back in the day and caused a tiny little rumble equivalent of an HGV going past your house, oooo big deal! Lessons learnt and off we go.
    The amount of fake dross put out there by the antis makes it surprising the percentage against is not higher! The industry has not done anywhere near the same level of social media campaigns as the anti side. Jobs and money are all normal people care about. Once the full effect of Brexit hits home there won’t be the same appetite for expensive green myths.

    • The present Government has promoted shale and put supportive information into the public domain for all to see.

      Ineos, Cuadrilla, and many others have engaged with communities up and down the country demonstrating their potential benefits.

      Information on both sides of the argument is readily available.

      This latest survey has demonstrated that when people make informed decisions over twice as many oppose the industry than support it.

      Without the support of local communities this industry could never survive.

    • I guess you don’t know many people then , remotely or otherwise , it must be tough for you to not have anything to say other than the same old industry broken record reply. Yawn.

    • Scaremongering again peeny? Your comment rather depends upon who you listen to, not who you speak to, and your definition of ascertaining remotely (from a distance?) intelligent really rather depends upon ones ability to distinguish and evaluate intelligence based upon ones own relative experiential evaluation?
      Equally if UK Shale is completely new and therefore ALL positive evaluation stories are based on ‘what if’, and are equally open to debate?
      “caused a tiny little rumble equivalent of an HGV going past your house, oooo big deal!”
      We have been here before, HGV ground vibration is a minor surface wave that travels in the top meter or so, an earthquake is not a “rumble”its an earth quake on the Richter scale, as has been pointed out is a factor of 10 exponential, and originates deep down, and can amplify or decrease via stratified formations locally, which is what happened, not, I might add, from a seismic test, as you very well know.

      The amount of fake dross put out there by the anti antis makes it surprising the percentage against fracking is not higher!
      Jobs and money are not all “normal” people care about. Define “normal?” People care about their families, their children, their health, their future and their environment, fracking threatens and will destroy every one of those aspirations, this pathetic attempt by frackers to overturn and highjack this country by bullying and insanely paranoid injunctions is not, and will not be tolerated. Once the full effect of Brexit hits home there won’t be any appetite for expensive poisonous polluting unwelcome bullying fracking myths.

      [Typos corrected at poster’s request]

      • Oh dear – did Perny just let slip that he doesn’t know what caused the Preese Hall earth tremors? In case you still haven’t worked it out Peeny it was a thing called fracking

  4. They are getting very unpopular now, aren’t they? The frackers. Maybe the population are tired of all the promises by the industry and see no positive results but only inconvenience and public disruption nuisances by the lock on and intimidation of small business contractors.

  5. Don’t worry TW we are on the cusp of exploration, the antis know their time is nearly up. Once positive news comes out there will be a pyschological shift with the potential of home grown energy and jobs.
    Considering everything has gone against the industry till now it does beggar belief our stats are so positive. Once we have positive news and there are no earthquakes or water contamination wait and see that figure rise dramatically.

      • ” you can’t make this stuff up! ”

        The problem is much of the so called ‘anti-Fracking’ protest is just that. Lots of noise and protest, even when there is no Fracking or intention of Fracking. When there is a clear and rational debate which delineates between: oil; water; gas; chemicals; and; vegetable products then I will listen to you.

        Hope you agree?

        • Mark – well done for spotting that the ‘anti-Fracking’ protest is a protest. Full marks there.

    • More diatribes? Like Frick and Frack isn’t it?
      There is no such thing as “home grown” oil and gas, it is at least 500 million years old carbonised deposits which extend way beyond petty national boundaries, it is being literally stolen from beneath our feet by profit motivated corporate thieves and desecrators who do not give one iota or scintilla of care or concern about the communities they will destroy, the lives they are about to pollute and poison, about the destruction and partitioning off of our countries beauty spots to feed their greed at our expense.
      That is now becoming common knowledge and nothing will now stop the truth from emerging.
      Earthquakes have all ready happened water pollution has all ready occurred, or did you conveniently forget the illegal dumping of radioactive and poisonous waste in the Manchester Canal?
      Then what about the theft of our all ready dwindling fresh water supply? Where will all those millions of gallons of polluted waste water be taken? Pumped back into the holes? Only 10 to 50% of polluted waste water is extracted? Where does all the 60 to 90% of polluted waste water go? Answer? The “experts” Dont Know! But we do! Into our drinking water supply!
      What an absolute fracking farce!

  6. According to the first bar chart most people 48% neither support or oppose shale gas . In other words most people are
    not bothered if it does happen and with the 16 % supporting shale gas and 3 % don’t know there is only a small minority who are against shale gas. The country can not be dictated to by the few .

  7. The present government is still using misleading information by claiming fracking will lower energy costs. I suspect once the 70% become more informed and understand the scale and extent of the disruption then opposition will grow considerably. This is an industry that admits it is struggling to find investors, has a lack of public support and a change of government will end it.

  8. I think the drop in strong support group is an indication of those who know about fracking and its potential benefits but the wait is too long they become disillusioned. I agree with GBK and am convinced that these strong support people are fully aware of the junk science of anti fracking fake news and propaganda but no longer support fracking because they dont see the positive results shale gas promise. Whereas those haven’t heard of shale gas are bombarded with scary stories by anti fracking and dont have the times to look into it and take those stories on face values and negative press on protesters disruption of traffic and intimidating small businesses and they become upsupportive of shale. It will be up to the industry to generate positive result from drilling and economic benefits that comes with it otherwise it would be the end after a couple of wells.

    • Although I can see your reasoning TW, that’s a lot of presumption from a graph. Better to interview the respondents and find out the facts before you create another story.

      • I have already done a fair few debates with people that have no knowledge of fracking, I have provided an unbiased view and the vast majority are up for it based on it being regulated. People that are 100% against it tend to have a common psychological profile and are not in any way unique even though they like to think they are. Luckily these people don’t have much say in what goes on in the world or there would be no advancement in technology as they are against taking any risk. That being said they tend to take huge amounts of risk with other peoples money!

        • “I have already done a fair few debates with people that have no knowledge of fracking, I have provided an unbiased view”

          Oh! GottaFibberpeeny! You are so funny? Laugh? I almost did?

          Firstly i havent seen any debate about anything with anybody, all that seems to happen is personal remarks to divert the question away from anything threateningly factual, and then continue to regurgitate the same old tired and fake pseudo scientific fracking myths that have all ready been proven rubbish in previous posts? Do you think that is preaching to a new audience with each new topic? To any who haven’t read anything from previous posts?

          You didn’t even know (or tried to conceal) what caused the earthquake at Preese Hall?

          Have you once ever provided an unbiased view? Just once in any of your many many fake ID’s? Certainly none of the ones portrayed here?

          To paraphrase your own words:

          People that are 100% for fracking tend to have a common psychological profile and are not in any way unique even though they like to think they are. Luckily these people don’t have much say in what goes on in the world or there would be no advancement in technology as they are only in it if every one else takes all the risks. That being said they tend to take huge amounts of risk with other peoples lives!

          Such fun!

  9. So, after years of no factual, positive information available for fracking benefits in the UK, there are just 33% against fracking. No wonder the antis are so desperate to stop any tests being completed.

    As with all such surveys, the response will alter dramatically when/if tests enable benefits to be detailed and costed. I can not understand how any “product” would not show this trend until the audience being questioned could weigh benefits against possible downsides. Most will not be too interested in experiences plucked from overseas, otherwise Hinkley would not happen after Chernobyl.

    “Of those who were neutral, 73% said it was because they didn’t know enough about it”. Pretty sensible, and normal.That includes the positives as well as negatives.

    Certainly NOT showing the majority of the population oppose fracking, as stated repeatedly on this site.

    • No Martin – just showing twice as many opposing as supporting. That’s good enough for me just now 🙂

    • Mustn’t let the undecided know too much eh Martin? Then the numbers against would leap up, except for those wanting to have a flutter on the stocks and shares market – if tests prove successful that is. Investment managers and lobbyists (not mentioning any names) will try and ensure our weakened government will bend to their demands for grants, cheap loans and tax incentives (with the promises of big returns downstream, not to mention energy security)… so the risks will be socialised and the profits privatised and corporatised. There’ll be a rush of speculation, then hedging then short selling when it all tanks in a few years time. It will be like DeLorean times a thousand… the UK taxpayers and lots of gullible investors out of pocket. The investment sharks will have taken their fat cuts by then an will be gone. They know how to milk these schemes for sure but they’re desperate to get the government and us to underwrite the risks to get the bandwagon rolling.

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