Opposition to fracking at record high and support at lowest level ever – latest government survey

Public Attitudes2

The latest findings from the government survey of attitudes to fracking in the UK shows dwindling support for the second quarter running.

The results, published this morning, has support (rounded figure) at 13%, the lowest level since the question was first asked. This is more than 3 points down on the previous low of 16% in the survey carried out in the summer of this year.


Opposition to fracking was at record levels of 36%, (rounded figure)  up from the previous high of 33%.


The gap between opposition and support is again the largest so far recorded, increased from 17%, in the previous survey.


The survey was carried out in September and October 2017, after Third Energy started work at its fracking site at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.


Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“The government is blocking its ears to the rising voices asking them to stop backing fracking, but ordinary people are making that increasingly difficult. The Conservative manifesto said fracking would only continue with public support, but their own opinion polls show support for fracking is at a record-low, with nearly three times as many people opposing it as supporting it.

“With fracking now banned or blocked in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Westminster government is isolated. Their own plans show that fracked gas is an irrelevance for UK energy security. Greenpeace is standing with all the brave and dedicated local people who will continue to protest peacefully until ministers realise they would do better to ditch fracking and focus on clean, affordable and popular offshore wind, solar and tidal power instead.”

Rose Dickinson, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:

“Again, the government has asked the public what they think, and again, they don’t want fracking – the tiny support fracking does have is now at a record low. This survey comes at a critical time because the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, is deciding if he should grant the final permission to frack in England.

“Now, as Mr Clark considers that decision in light of the highest recorded levels of public opposition, he can still decide to stop fracking.”

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said:

“The stats clearly show that the majority of people in the UK are in the ‘don’t know’ category, or undecided on the process. This is why it is more important than ever to continue our work with local communities to dispel the myths being promulgated by our opponents. The need for a homegrown source of gas to reduce our import dependency both on economic and environmental grounds should be the clear focus of the UK’s attention.”

Strong support and opposition

According to the survey, strong support for fracking has fallen to 1%, down from 2% in the previous survey.

strong support

Strong opposition is up one percentage point to 14%.

strong oppose

Participants who said they neither supported nor opposed fracking remained the largest proportion of the survey and unchanged at 48% since this time last year..


Awareness of fracking was 78%, the same as the figure in the previous survey. Participants who said they knew a lot was 13%, again matching the summer survey.  Participants who said they had never heard of fracking or shale gas was 22%, unchanged on the previous survey.


The survey concluded awareness of fracking was higher among males (84%), for those in social grade AB (91%), aged over 65 (90%), with incomes over £50,000 (91%), and home owners (86%).


The most frequently given reasons for supporting fracking were:  the need to
use all available energy sources (32%), being good for local jobs and investment (28%), potentially resulting in cheaper energy bills (26%), and to reduce dependence on other countries for the UK’s energy supply (24%)

reassons to support

The most frequently given reason for opposing fracking was the loss or destruction of the natural environment (64%). Other frequent reasons were too much risk and uncertainty (30%),  the risk of contamination to water supplies (28%), that it is
generally not a safe process (25%), and that there is a risk of earthquakes (23%).

reassons to oppose


The Wave 23 survey for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy  carried out 2,105  face-to-face interviews in homes among a representative sample of UK adults, aged 16+. The interviews were conducted between 27 September 2017 to 1 October 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 23, the latest BEIS quarterly public attitudes survey

Categories: Research

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32 replies »

  1. I suggest Barbara you come and listen to the people who live close to proposed on land wind turbine sites and hear what they have to say, or similarly to new sites for nuclear power stations. Nimbyism can be found in many areas of development.

  2. Just to note that the weather tonight demonstrates the difficulties of relying on renewable energy, no electricity being generated from solar of course and just 0.57gw from barely turning wind farms.

    We are relying on gas to generate over 55% of our electricity and over 80% of our domestic heating. So sorry it’s just obvious we will need a back-up fuel source until battery technology catches up if it ever will.

    • The sun always shines somewhere on the planet, in fact its quite predictable, the wind blows everywhere the higher you get, the tides always flow, thanks to the moon, the core is hotter than the surface, the surface is hotter all the time in places, even in England, the sun has been pouring out energy for the past billions of years, it is doing so now, it will do so in the future, 365/24/7, the electromagnetic state of the planet and the solar system and the universe is that there is a charge differential positive in the atmosphere of the eath and negative in the earth, that is what earth and ground means, that charge is always there.
      Solve these really rather simple riddles and the answers leap up a bite expensive and polluting fossil fuels in the carbonised arse.
      Energy is free once the technology is perfected, it always has been free, it always will be free.
      There is the solution, it is so simple it is almost laughable, so we better go and do it and stop prevaricating with poisonous fossil fuel oligarchies.

    • Shalewatcher – I doubt many of us here don’t realise that gas will be part of the UK energy mix in the short to medium term. However, we also realise that it does not need to be fracked gas from the UK. Indeed as has been discussed here ad nauseam UK fracked gas looks as though it will be more expensive that US fracked gas, or conventional gas from elsewhere, liquefied into LNG and then regasified in UK. Regardless of the relative merits regarding climate change the market will simply buy the cheapest resource. neither you nor I have any influence over that fact. So while you may be stating the obvious that, until Phil’s riddles are solved, gas will be in the equation somewhere, if you are inferring that it must be UK fracked gas you are way off the mark. Even our Gung Ho! government have had to admit that UK fracked gas is not necessary for our energy security.

  3. Ken Cronin says “The stats clearly show that the majority of people in the UK are in the ‘don’t know’ category, or undecided on the process. This is why it is more important than ever to continue our work with local communities to dispel the myths being promulgated by our opponents.”
    At last, I can agree on something he says i.e. the first sentence (stating the bleedin’ obvious). On the second however, everything I’ve heard from the industry in almost 5 years has been riddled with spin, half truths and weasel words. The opposition may be prone to over exaggeration of SOME risks, but not myths.
    My analysis of the figures may differ from others: Significantly, there is an ongoing and distinct trend among those who express a definite view and say they know about fracking – opposition grows and support wanes. As this trend is currently based on a fairly fixed percentage of around 52% of the sample, it will be deeply worrying to the industry (not that their PR machine and shills would admit it of course) It cannot have gone unnoticed among the ‘establishment’ either. More nails in the coffin every survey. Also significant is the relatively stable 48% who ‘neither support nor oppose’. I would split this number largely into two distinct categories. Probably a small percentage could be described as ‘don’t give a toss and probably never will’. Of greater interest are the more significant number who will live well away from PNR, KM8 or other active ‘at risk’ sites. Their information will be largely limited to govt and industry spin and very limited media hype – notice fracking is rarely given prominence in national media, only local. Not until it’s ‘In My Back Yard’ will they actually look closely and do their own research. If the imminent test fracks show commercial promise, there is likely to be an explosion of seismic testing and planning applications in all current PEDL’s. That will create an equal explosion of interest from within that currently steady 48%. I could be wrong of course, but move 10 or 20% of those 48% into the ‘I know about it and care about it’ category and there will be a huge groundswell of coffin nails remeniscent of the poll tax days.

  4. I should add that the hardcore of those current 36% that oppose fracking are not NIMBYs at all. They are intelligent people who are well informed about climate change, fracking, renewables and all related topics. They know that we cannot afford to frack for new sources of hydrocarbons in anyone’s back yard, because the proven science says so. It’s just unfortunate that doesn’t keep huge amounts of cash flowing into the petrochemical industry’s rich and powerful pockets.

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