UK support for fracking has recovered from its record low, according to the latest findings from a quarterly government survey. Opposition fell slightly but remains double the level of support.
The results, published this morning, put support at 16%, up three points from the previous survey and back to the level of six months ago. It remains lower than support for nuclear energy (35%) and renewables (79%).
Opposition to fracking was 32%, down four points from the previous survey which was a record high. Opposition remains higher than a year ago but repeated a trend in previous surveys of falling in the winter.
The gap between support and opposition is now 16%. This has narrowed from the previous survey, when it was the largest so far recorded.
Strong support and opposition
According to the survey, strong support for fracking was up two percentage points to 3%.
Strong opposition was down two points on the previous survey to 12%.
Participants who said they neither supported nor opposed fracking – 49% – remained the largest proportion of the survey, unchanged from this time a year ago. Of those who were neutral on fracking, 78% said this was because they didn’t know enough about it.
Overall awareness of fracking was 76%, down two points on the figure in the previous survey. Participants who said they knew a lot rose to 15%, two points up on the previous survey. Participants who said they had never heard of fracking or shale gas was also up two points to 24%. Those who said they knew a little was down 5% to 42%.
The researchers said:
“Awareness of fracking was higher among those aged 55-64 and 65+ (88% and 87%, respectively), those in social grade AB (90%), home owners (85%) and those who earn over £50,000 (93%).”
Reasons for support
The most commonly given reasons to support fracking were:
- Need to use all available energy sources – up 4% on the previous survey to to 36%
- Reduce dependence on other fossil fuels – up 11% to 34%
- Reduce dependence on other countries of UK’s energy supply – up 1% to 25%
- May result in cheaper energy bills – down 5% to 21%, continuing a trend over the past six months
- Good for local jobs and investment – down 10% to 18%
Reasons for opposition
The most commonly given reason for opposing fracking was loss or destruction of the natural environment. This peaked at 68% in summer 2017 and has fallen since to 62% in the latest survey.
Other reasons given are:
- Risk of contamination to water supply – down 1% to 27%
- Too much risk or uncertainty – down 6% to 24%
- Risk of earthquakes – unchanged at 23%
- Not a safe process – down 1% to 24%
Other energy sources
The survey asked questions about other energy sources.
Support 35%; oppose 22%; neither support nor oppose 40%; don’t know 3%
Support 79%; oppose 4%; neither support nor oppose 16%; don’t know 1%
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:
“Today’s release of Wave 24 data gives some palliative relief to the ailing UK fracking
industry. It shows that the relentless slide towards single figure percentage support has
been, at least temporarily, halted. The industry, however, are still a long way from reversing the plummeting support over the last few years.
“The collapse in the acceptance of the industry’s standard PR lines is particularly striking. When asked why they support fracking the reason “Good for local jobs and investment” has fallen from 28% to 18% and “May result in cheaper energy bills” has fallen from 26% to 21%.
In spite of the huge resources thrown at PR by the industry the story is clear. Their efforts to persuade the general public are failing miserably.”
The Wave 24 survey for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy carried out 2,078 face-to-face interviews in homes among a representative sample of UK adults, aged 16+. The interviews were conducted 13-17 December 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.
Updated on 1/2/2018 at 2pm to correct the figure for people who neither support nor oppose renewables.