Changes planned to questions in government survey of fracking views


The government is planning to change some of the questions in its public opinion survey on why people support or oppose fracking.

A consultation, which opened today, asks for views on these and other proposed changes as part of a review of the Wave Tracker.

The survey, commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has shown a decline in support for fracking and a rise in opposition since the question was first asked in 2013.

DrillOrDrop has been reporting regularly the quarterly findings, the most recent of which puts support on 16% and opposition on 32%. Participants who neither supported nor opposed were 49% in the latest survey, published on 1 February 2018.

The survey asks five main questions about fracking and shale gas. There is no proposal to change questions about how much participants know about the process and whether they support or oppose it.

But the consultation does propose to change the three questions covering why participants either support or oppose or don’t express an opinion. The consultation document says:

“This is to provide more useful information for policy development.”

It adds:

“The detail of the potential new questions has not yet been developed.”

In the most recent survey, the main reasons given for support for fracking were:

  • Need to use all available energy sources
  • Reduce dependence on other fossil fuels
  • Reduce dependence on other countries of UK’s energy supply
  • May result in cheaper energy bills
  • Good for local jobs and investment

Reasons to support

The main reasons given in the most recent survey for opposing fracking were:

  • Risk of contamination to water supply
  • Too much risk or uncertainty
  • Risk of earthquakes
  • Not a safe process

Reasons to oppose

Among participants who neither supported nor opposed, the main reasons were:

  • Don’t know enough about it
  • Have never heard of it
  • Haven’t made up my mind about it yet
  • I can see the positives and negatives
  • Not interested

The consultation closes on 18 March 2018 and views can be given online link here


29 replies »

  1. The problem with the Wave Tracker, is of course, that the respondents are randomly chosen from all across the country. This means a high percentage of respondents live in areas that are in no danger of having fracking imposed on them. This is why there is such a high percentage of “Don’t Knows”.
    Were the government to canvass areas where people are actually threatened by fracking, the opposition would be overwhelming, not just 32% against.

    • It is encouraging that twice as many as support who not yet affected by this dirty fossil fuel industry actually oppose fracking already.

      A survey only relays data based on parameters, the application when you have a point to make. If the point is changed it becomes a whole new ball game. I think the most adult response should be to get involved and put forward suggestions. Depending on the uptake of these; will quickly show what this ‘point’ is going to be…

  2. Call me cynical, but this sounds like the Government isn’t happy with the responses that they consistently get (which show that fracking has the support of only a very small minority of the country) and are trying to rig the poll by asking more favourable questions.

  3. Spot on imho Ellie. Seems a bit like wanting another referendum when the first doesn’t go your way … and that’s from a Remainer who has *not* been calling for another vote on you know what!!

  4. Not cynical Ellie, this so called government will do anything to have an excuse to support fracking. Despite all the information available to explain why it should be banned, they just bury their heads in the sand. Would make more sense to encourage, as other countries are doing, wind, wave and solar. But don’t hold your breath.

  5. Looks good to me. A chance to comment on the issue ( which no doubt we all will ).

    Plus a chance to ask compound questions. Similar to that old management question. Which do you prefer, to die In. A pit of lions, or a pit of snakes? Er well neither but if I have to decide between a wind farm next to me for ever, or a frack site for 20 years, well, easy decisions guess?

    • Great question hewes62 – defo a wind farm forever :); children, and grandchildren infinitum safe forever! Bring it on…..

      Do need to point out that the management question in this case does not apply, you only die with fracking, bless.

          • Sherwulf
            The point was, the Hydrocarbon resource, once extracted has gone forever, but the wind is always there. So maybe plump for a wind turbine as it’s not likely to be either / or, more likely to be about when … if you live in a windy place.

            The competition sounds good.

            I propose one in the ‘clueless’ category. Open to either side, and given for stating things that are demonstrably not true ( rather than arguably or a matter of opinion ).

            • ‘The point was, the Hydrocarbon resource, once extracted has gone forever, but the wind is always there.’ – at last a sensible statement!

              Let’s continue with the expansion of the renewable energy, using some fossil fuels where absolutely necessary, from sources already in reserve, of course, not new controversial sources, and leave the rest in the ground, so we all have a future.

              The new catagory could be fun hewes, we could even have a grand get together to present the trophies, as long as they are recyclable 😉

  6. The survey is irrelevant. No one wants a drilling site near their house. I have one nearby, and I don’t mind it, but I would still prefer that it was somewhere else (in someone else’s backyard, if you will). I am also not “for” sewage treatment facilities, chemical plants, large manufacturing plants, electrical transmission lines, railway lines, power generating facilities, or any number of other industrial complexes.

    Regardless of the fact that few people are really “for” any of these things, society needs these industrial operations to continue operating.

    So, why ask whether people are “for” fracking? Even in the States, where fracking provides a dominant share of our energy, few people are “for” it. We all benefit from it, and we would certainly care if it were suddenly taken away, but that doesn’t mean we’re excited to have well sites drilled in our neighborhoods.

    You can’t make complex, long-term energy policy decisions based on public opinion. The results would be disastrous. Adult supervision is required.

    • EKT, apologies, but no business entity should have the right to overseer the people, environment and all life that inhabits the planet. It’s a ridiculous concept exacerbated when certain individuals manipulated the law to create a business persona in order to steal assets from others and pile them in their treasure caves.

      A business should serve the needs of the people; if those people say NO, then either, they suffer the consequences, or find an alternative for the lack of that product or service; it’s a required method of responsibility, cause and effect; simples…

      • Sherwulfe, you are incorrect Fracking does far more good than harm, as has been shown empirically. My point is that any poll is a straw man argument. No one wants industrial operations, but they all want the benefit these operations afford (including you.) We can’t have the benefits without locating the operations somewhere. So, raising the point that no one wants a well pad nearby doesn’t prove a thing.

        • ‘Fracking does far more good than harm, as has been shown empirically.’ this is in fact a statement by you as a believer and operator of this industry; most would not agree with you. The fact that you list a harm is a worry.

          ‘My point is that any poll is a straw man argument’. – only if it does not show the result you want.

          ‘No one wants industrial operations’ – correct, so why are they forced on us? Answer – see my last post; ‘but they all want the benefit these operations afford (including you.) ‘ – they being who? And certainly not me.

          ‘We can’t have the benefits without locating the operations somewhere’. – okay so to the point, where there is a less invasive, less polluting, sustainable alternative using latest state of the art technology, why be a Luddite EKT? Embrace the change, the energy revolution is upon us, you cannot stop it, oil and gas is a fossil industry, becoming more defunct by the day.

          ‘So, raising the point that no one wants a well pad nearby doesn’t prove a thing’. – actually it does, it means, no one wants a well pad nearby, period.

  7. Perhaps they will add a few questions about what financial return would you require to support fracking! Now, the gut reaction is that is a sordid attempt at bribery, but most market research includes some element of financial benefit to the audience. Indeed, several I have conducted attempted to assess at what point of return will the audience move to a positive position. Quite a routine piece of information required for most products.

    I wonder what the results would be around PNR if they were asked if they were for or against a Sellafield “sister”.

    • Knowing what is known about negative impacts of nuclear energy today, and not when the original facility was built, I’d say a resounding NO THANKS 🙂

  8. You would Sherwulfe. But, if you were in the minority, and on top of that the government of the day said yes, you could be a protestor whilst it progressed-just like the Newbury bypass, and UK on shore oil and gas development. Not trying to score points. I am not a supporter of current Hinkley expansion as it seems to be a decision taken because it had become too late to make a better one, but it will happen and will be added to our bills. What would be the % who would support that if asked?

    • An interesting point Martin. Superficially most look to the cost of energy; it’s interesting that those who cannot afford the basics of life often have to pay more for their energy, through card meters and tariffs based on credit rating.

      Even more worryingly a person who owns a mansion and cannot afford to heat all the rooms as classed as being in ‘fuel poverty’.

      However, more and more people are looking at the bigger picture; most conversations about Hinkley Point are no longer about the delay or the cost to the taxpayer, more about pollution from Fukushima, ownership by China and where will the waste go?

      There is a movement away from dirty fuel, oil derived plastic and nuclear waste. Renewable, alternative, clean, whatever you want to call it is here and now competitive on price. It’s not an overnight fix, but a the technology is here and working and we are on the cusp of an energy revolution; nether should it take years to engage with. The young are demanding change, the stubborn oldie’s are moving off the planet, sailing into the nether in wooden boxes. Patience is a virtue. Fracking is not.

    • Whoever came up with the original questions is in for a right old spanking for not getting the positive feedback about shale that the Government desperately needs.

      They will now have to push a little harder with the new questions.

      They could try something like this

      1. Would you (A) like to live next to a fracking site or (B) Be shot in the head

      2. Would you and your family choose (A) To live 20 miles from a fracking site or (B) to have a commercial sized wind turbine sited in your front garden 10 foot from your front door.

      3. If we told you that we get our gas from Russia would you (A) be grateful the Government was behind fracking or (B) want to run the risk of freezing to death if the Russians turned the supply off.

      4. Would you rather (A) live a mile from a fracking site with gold standard regulations or (B) 300 metres from an ageing nuclear power station

      Please note you are not at liberty to answer these questions. All unanswered questions will be counted as answer (A)

      You would need a foot note to cover yourselves. Something along the lines ‘these questions have been compiled by a chosen committee who have been supplied with information from other sources’

      The results are in

      100% of respondents to our nation wide survey have stated they would like to live next to a fracking site.
      100% of respondents believe wind turbines are intrusive and would prefer to live near to a fracking site
      100% of respondents are worried about gas supplies from Russia and are grateful for the Governments support of fracking
      100% of respondents think fracking is safer than nuclear

      You only have to ask the right questions.

      • This will be yet another disaster for the Government. They will twist the questions to show a move towards support. The anti fracking movement will get hold of the original and the new questions and publish how the wording has been manipulated. More people will see the scam and oppose the industry. It will end up another own goal.

      • Brilliant!
        You have an interview on Monday at 9am sharp for ‘Person in charge of creating closed questions so the present government can appear to be sympathetic to the voters whilst shafting them from behind’.
        (Interview just a formality by the way; salary of your choosing as we will just print out the money to cover).

  9. This sounds like the government tweaking the questions to try and get a more favourable response which they will like. They are ignoring the very real and well documented reports of incredible damage to the environment. Massive damage to our air and water supplies which have taken decades to reach the current levels. The U.K. is still in breach of European emission paws

  10. Martin Collyer – “what financial return would you require to support fracking”? Most intelligent people would say that £1billion wouldn’t be enough if their, and their families, health and quality of life were shot to pieces.

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