Research

Small rise in support for fracking – latest government survey

Summary attitudes

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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.

Support

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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%).

Oppose

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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.

Gap

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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

Strong support

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

According to the survey, strong support for fracking was up two percentage points to 3%.

Strongly oppose

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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.

Awareness

Awareness

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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

Reasons to support

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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

Reasons to oppose

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave Tracker survey

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.

Nuclear energy

Support 35%; oppose 22%; neither support nor oppose 40%; don’t know 3%

Renewable energy

Support 79%; oppose 4%; neither support nor oppose 16%; don’t know 1%

Reaction

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.”

Methodology

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.

Link

Wave 24, the latest BEIS quarterly public attitudes survey


Updated on 1/2/2018 at 2pm to correct the figure for people who neither support nor oppose renewables.

56 replies »

  1. As I stated within the last few days, opposition is fading away, and more activist recruits are being searched for.

    Now this survey shows it in stark form, with a drop in opposition of over 10% in a single quarter, and still absolutely no conversion from those who neither oppose or support. Co-incidental that this is during the period when first payments to locals are made? I suspect it is, because such factors usually have a lag time-so, probably worse news to come.

    • An interesting comment Martin, and would be curious to know if any of the 2078 participants were receivers of payments from fracking companies.

      However, as a statistician, looking at trends the following results tell a story of their own:
      Results in fourth quarter (winter) December 13 – December 17:
      Support: 28, 24, 23, 18, 16 – trend down (range 12)
      Oppose: 21, 23, 29, 31, 32 – trend up (range 11)
      From these shifts, taking into account your comment ‘still absolutely no conversion from those who neither oppose or support’ it can be deduced that there is a marked shift from support to oppose. The range between Dec 13 (support 28 and oppose 21) was just 7; the range between Dec 17 (support 16 and oppose 32) is 16. Despite the psychology of winter it now confirms that the industry is being rejected.

  2. I’m all for fracking, but let’s be honest. None of this matters – this is the ultimate straw-man argument. Who favors waste dump? How much support do chemical plants receive? Has anyone ever in the history of mankind asked for electric transmission lines to be located near their homes? Do people favor sewage treatment facilities? The answer, of course, is no. People want the benefit of industrial infrastructure projects, but they don’t “favor” them.

    And to those who counter, “but they do favor wind power,” you are living in a fairy tale world of dancing unicorns and rainbows and butterflies. People think that a few wind turbines are novel, and they feel good about them because they know that they generate power without creating emissions. But when they have to live amidst thousands of those monstrosities, their perspective changes quite a bit. “Property owners living close to wind turbines have complained about the pollution of wells, restriction of land use, fires, flying debris, health impacts, killing of wild life, property value diminution and inhabitability of homes. During and after construction, many municipalities are concerned about potential road damage, water pollution and financial damage to local economies.Many residents complain that once wind projects are completed, the province fails to meaningfully enforce regulations connected with their operation.”

  3. As a statistician

    Perhaps some saw or will see that (money) as an initial indication of a potential benefit to themselves? That is the basis on how most people vote. I pointed out that at this moment in time that influence is likely to be small but discount it going forward if you wish although I would be surprised if a statistician doesn’t recognise the power of a cost benefit analysis. You have spent a long time magnifying the cost side, the benefit side will come into play.

    Surprised you don’t recognise that individuals can go from support to sitting on the fence, and those sitting on the fence can become anti., (and of course vice verca) yet the sitting on the fence stays the same. All market research I have done confirms those sitting on the fence are mostly awaiting clarity as what it means to them financially. The Brexit referendum shows that in these circumstances many will not trust scaremongering or over promising but will simply think, “I will wait for the actual financials before I move my position.”

    Don’t play the winter card too strongly. It tends to contradict the climate change card.

    I don’t think my comments will help, Ronin. Denial will probably be the best, and well tried, approach.

    • Unfortunately Martin, this is not the survey to answer your questions. Maybe something you would like to commission knowing your background and preferences? It might even generate a few facts for you to base your assumptions on.

  4. This is a national survey. Local opposition near fracking sites is far far higher (and support lower) as people there are better informed, have looked at the evidence themselves, and not swallowed industry spin. The industry have only got as far as they have (and still not fracked for 7 years) by subverting or bypassing local democracy. Determined and large scale opposition and unfavourable economics are together rapidly killing off fracking.

  5. The renewable energy numbers ( under ‘other energy souces’ add up to 114%, so maybe you get an extra 14% added to your score, be it for, against or not for or against …. as a bonus.

  6. Was reading this earlier and expected comments such as ‘dead cat bounce’ etc. However the fact that we’re seeing a rise in support confirms that the general public as a whole would be absolutely fine with fracking as long as there were no major hiccups along the way. And once people realise there are no earthquakes or contamination of water supplies it’s game over for the comrades.
    The numbers these polls are carried out on are so small I’d have expected a near 100% against.
    Vocal minorities always appear larger than they really are, as is the case in last election and also Scotlands independence referendum.
    The anti fracking movement has already peaked and there will be no other source of large scale protest. There will always be local opposition but that’s part and parcel to any development.
    The courts have favoured the pros, it’s only a matter of time before exploration kicks off.
    Turn your attention to the developing world if you really care about the planet. Do something good with your lives.

    • GBK not that paying attention to the developing world is a bad thing why would people not also oppose inappropriate development in their locality? As you say its part and parcel of the development process.

      Why would you expect 100% against just because the survey numbers are what the are (approx. 2k)?. That’s not how opinion polling works and the figures over a period of time certainly do not confirm the general public as a whole are absolutely fine with fracking. I would suggest that opposition will continue to grow as more and more communities are placed in the frackers cross hairs and the general public awareness increases as a result.

      Dress it up how ever you choose but until there are repeated growth in the ‘support’ numbers to the point it surpasses the ‘againsts’, there is no social licence.

    • ‘ confirms that the general public as a whole would be absolutely fine with fracking as long as there were no major hiccups along the way. And once people realise there are no earthquakes or contamination of water supplies it’s game over’

      GBK it seems it’s actually game over for you I’m afraid;

      no major hiccups:
      https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/31/met-office-warns-of-global-temperature-rise-exceeding-15c-limit

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/29/natural-gas-killed-coal-now-renewables-and-batteries-are-taking-over

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/01/surfers-against-sewage-urge-mps-to-make-parliament-plastic-free

      No earthquakes?Tell that to those who experiences the 50 seismic events at Preese Hall; more to come on this story, if you ever get to pull the levers….

      ‘The anti fracking movement has already peaked and there will be no other source of large scale protest’….funny that, you haven’t even started yet, and neither have we; this is just the preliminaries……

      ‘Do something good with your lives’;
      yes we are, we are protecting the lives of the next generations, without prejudice or colonial bias, and the future of our planet and all species that inhabit this Blue Planet. We are calling attention to and cleaning up your shit; soon you will be the small band of smokers consigned outside to the shelter in howling (electricity producing) winds…..

  7. Yep, denial it is, as USA overtakes Saudi to become number 2 oil producer. With number 1 being Russia good old Donald helping to hold down the current rate of oil price increase. Just hope he carries on doing it. Facts, not assumptions.

  8. “once people realise there are no earthquakes or contamination of water supplies it’s game over for the comrades”
    … And once people discover the reality (as if that hasn’t been learnt already) it’s game over for the frackers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.