Rise in support for fracking continues – latest government survey

Wave 25 000 summary

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

Support for fracking in the UK has risen again, according to the latest findings from a quarterly government survey. Opposition remained unchanged and is still 14 percentage points ahead of support.

Wave 25 support

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

The results published this morning put support at 18%, up two points on the previous survey. This is the second consecutive rise and is the highest level for support since this time a year ago.

According to the survey, support for shale gas still remains below support for nuclear energy (38%) and renewables (85%, a record high).

Wave 25 Oppose

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

Opposition to fracking remained on 32% after a four point drop between the 2017 autumn and winter surveys. Opposition remains higher than a year ago.

The gap between support and opposition is narrowing and now stands on 14%, down from a record 23% in atumun 2017.

Neither support nor oppose

Wave 25 Neither support nor oppose

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

Participants who neither supported nor oppose fell to 47%, the lowest level since summer 2016.

Strong support and opposition

Wave 25 support strongly

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

Despite the rise in general support, strong support for fracking was down one percentage point to 2%. This appears to be part of a general trend from the record high of 6% in September 2013.

wave 25 oppose strongly

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

The proportion of people who strongly oppose fracking rose by one per percentage point to 13%. This is just short of record levels seen at this time two years ago and in autumn 2017.


Wave 25 Awareness

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

Overall awareness remained unchanged at 76%. 12% said they knew a lot, down 3% on the previous survey. 42% of participants said they knew a little and 22% said they were aware of shale gas but didn’t know what it was. 24% said they had not heard of it.

The researchers said awareness of fracking was higher amongst those in social grade AB (92%) and those aged 55-64 (86%) and 65+ (87%).

Awareness was also highest among participants with household incomes over £35,000. The level was 87% for household incomes £35,000-£49,999, and 86% for those over £50,000.

Reasons for support

Wave 25 Reasons to support

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

The cold spring and news headlines about energy imports may have influenced the reasons for supporting fracking.

The proportion who said they supported shale gas rose because it would reduce dependence on imports rose to 36% in this survey, up from 25% three months earlier.

Other leading reasons for support were “need to use all available energy sources” and “reducing dependence on other fossil fuels”. Both these reasons saw small falls.

Reasons for opposition

Wave 25 reasons to oppose

Source: BEIS Public Attitudes Wave 25 Tracker survey

Concerns about loss or destruction of the environment remained the leading reasons for opposing fracking, though it fell from 62% in the previous survey to 57% in this one. Other leading reasons to oppose also rose in this survey:

  • Risk of contamination to water supply – up four point to 31%
  • Too much risk or uncertainty – up four point to 28%
  • Risk of earthquakes – up six points to 29%


171214 Frack Free Lancashire1

Protest outside Lancashire County Council in Preston, 14 December 2017. Photo: Frack Free Lancashire

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“The long-term trend is obvious – this industry continuously fails to win support in spite of efforts to alternately buy local support and to threaten opposition with draconian legal injunctions.

“The data suggests that the small increase in support, from recent record lows, seems to be attributable to the fake news during the cold snap about UK energy dependence on Russia. The reason for support “Reduces dependence on other countries for UK’s energy supply” leapt from 25% to 36% of those polled this time around, when in fact UK imports less than 1% of its gas from Russian sources.

“Meanwhile, support for renewable energy continues to increase, with a record 85% of those polled expressing support, and with strong support surging from 30% to 37%.

“The direction of travel in public opinion is clear. We now need our politicians to recognise this and take actions accordingly.”

A spokesperson for Frack Free United said:

“Unfortunately the misinformation and ignorance about our gas supplies from Russia are likely to create a knee-jerk response. The fact that there is no real change over the past year goes to show fracking is not the popular way to secure our energy supplies.”


The Wave 25 survey for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy carried out 2,102 face-to-face interviews in homes among a representative sample of UK households. The data was collected 28 March and 6 April 2018 using the Kantar TNS Omnibus, a random location quota sampling method. The questionnaire was designed by BEIS and Kantar Public (formerly TNS BMRB) drawing on a number of questions from previous surveys.


Wave 25, the latest BEIS quarterly public attitudes survey




82 replies »

  1. Dear Ruth, I very much respect the research that you do. I am currently a telephone interviewer working on surveys for water companies. They don’t mention the impact of fracking on any of their analyses and projections. It’s very weird as water plays such a HUGE part in fracking. I’m currently doing Anglian Water surveys. This covers Lincolnshire.  Any questions please ask.  It’s all in the public realm… but noone seems to notice!!! Regards K

    Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

  2. Alternative headline:

    “Swampies drained.”

    Considering that fracking is still to happen in UK, so economics yet to be established, the lack of growth in support against is illuminating.

    Energy security was always going to be a factor of increasing importance. The cold winter exposing weaknesses within the (supposedly) secure UK energy supply has not been missed by the public, many of whom are yet to absorb the recent energy price increases. Ironically, it is often the price increases at the fuel stations that magnify focus upon gas and electricity bills. Still in the pipeline.

    • Find it amusing that ‘knew a lot’ about fracking has gone down and support has gone up! Suggests that those additional who now support don’t know a lot about about fracking 🙂

      • ‘Levels of concern in relation to the UK’s future energy security have increased since last year.’

        71% say the UK not investing fast enough in alternative sources of energy – interesting?

        • ‘Support for the use of renewable energy reached a peaked of 85% at wave 25, an increase from 79% at wave 24 and the same stage last year (wave 21). Opposition to renewable energy remained very low, at 3%, with only 1% strongly opposed.’


          • Two in three said they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their area (66% at wave 25, compared with 58% at wave 21)
            Now compare that to being happy to have a large scale industrial shale gas development in your area……

    • Alternative headline:

      “Fractured Statistics”


      “Standard deviation of low sample face to face statistics after a significant cold snap and concerted political disinformation campaign confirms nothing in particular beyond a normal response to post winter blues and political and media machinations”

      I never did support the “random” statistical analysis, or indeed any other with such a small sample, even when it appears to support opposition to fracking and i have often said so.

      “The Wave 25 survey for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy carried out 2,102 face-to-face interviews in homes among a representative sample of UK households” Face to face is interesting, many people will say what they think is required of them in face to face confrontation, anonymous written response without potential intimidation is much more reliable. Standard deviation of sample is only relevant to the quality of the sampling method and how the interviewee reacts to the interviewer and is hence somewhat variable and potentially unreliable?

      It would be interesting to know how many of these sampled random locations were taken in the north of England and in areas which are threatened by fracking and how many were in safe seats in London?

      However to give this any credence at all, I see nothing here beyond an exceptionally cold winter snap, that always creates a ruffle in the news, the fake news media cries of threats to gas supplies and false figures for Russian gas supplies, Ineos conveniently timed gas supply pipeline “cracks” and anti Russian propaganda including the knock on effects of the Skripal poisoning blown up into frantic proportions by everyone with a red under the bed blood spattered axe to grind?

      Social media and news manipulation at its most transparent.

      Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
      And then is heard no more: it is a tale
      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
      Signifying nothing.

      William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, from Act 5, Scene 5

      “The Fracktured fleecing of the British public opinion.”

      • It would perhaps show a better ‘snapshot’ of the ‘public’s view’ if the complete questionnaire was sent to all households. Then we could look at regional stats and trends when the drilling companies march in compared to those who have not yet been awakened by the Kraken?

    • Thanks for all of the great data, Paul & Ruth. It would actually matter if the UK were to decide energy policy based on the whims of public opinion! Luckily those who understand these matters also understand enough to know that making long-term energy policy decisions based on public opinion is a disaster in the making. Other countries have found this out the hard way. Green energy policies are so popular……….well, they are popular until people can no longer pay their power bills and they freeze to death in the winter, or they realize that expensive Green power needs reliable and very inexpensive backup, which usually results in more coal/diesel deployments. Then people come to see that Green policies don’t achieve what they set out to accomplish, and their lack of success comes at a high cost to those who live in energy poverty and those who depend on employment from industries that are energy-intensive. Polls don’t really measure much, but the success of misleading Green propaganda I am afraid. Oh well!

      • Looks like 85% of people also think you are talking out of your a%$e EKT; your nudge psychology ‘aint working on the awakened…..

  3. Most people see alternative sources of energy in action Sherwulfe and can make a decision. They can’t do that with fracking, so they sit on the fence-for the moment. You may want to conflate alternative energy and fracking as if it is either/or but most recognise that it isn’t eg. gas boiler in the kitchen, solar panels on the roof, Hybrid on the drive. They still hope for the gas boiler to last through it’s lifetime without costing them a fortune and a secure source of their energy use.
    Of course, there also those with diesels on their drives who push them to get rid of their gas boilers as they are not knowledgeable if they don’t!

  4. Don’t know how anyone can possibly say “support for fracking has risen” when the chart clearly shows that it’s gone *down* – 24% in June 14; 24% in March 15; 19% in March 16; 19% in March-Apr. 17; 18% in March-Apr. 18.

    • If you look at the trend for Support fracking
      March 14, 29; March 15, 24; March 16, 19; March 17, 19; March 18, 18 – trend down nearly 40%.
      Interestingly trend for ‘Strongly Support’ fracking:
      March 14, 5; March 15, 5; March 16, 4; March 17, 3; March 18, 3 – trend also down. (60% reduction).

  5. Same old same old. All these samples are open to criticism at a detail level. The one consistent result seems to be there are more people opposed to fracking than support it. Let’s all just live with that. Admit the only thing that keeps fracking prospects going is government policy support.

  6. Government policy plus two thirds of the public surveyed are not against it, so no reason on the basis of public opinion for the Government to change it’s stance.

    Not conjecture Sherwulfe-fact. I have a number of friends and family who fit the category I have described. You don’t know them, but still fact. You keep on with the fiction.

    “Martin’s support base”!!

    No, the support base I look at PhilipP is the two thirds. I have explained that numerous times and the reasons behind that, indicating that I have, in the past, designed and commissioned similar surveys. But, please keep on with the fiction, and more of the same. It seems to be very successful based upon these results. LOL.

    • Hi Martin I am intrigued to know you’re background, you seemed to hint at farming but then you say you have commissioned surveys similar to this. Is there anything you do not profess to be an expert in?
      But I’m with the others on this, until the undecided come off the fence no one can count on their support. Plus the majority of polls were spectacularly wrong for the GE.
      There has been misinformation about Russian gas on the back of the atrocious poisonings and there was a perfect storm over cracked pipelines and other matters during an exceptionally harsh winter. But if the public support renewables so strongly and come to realise that renewables will deliver true energy independence, then it is only a matter of time and no doubt long before a fracking industry of the scale required could ever be developed. 😊

    • ah yes Martin, the ‘friends’ and ‘family’ and ‘jobs’ and ‘holiday destinations’ that all conveniently fit into the post of the day; yawn….

  7. Interesting findings. Agree with Martin, that once it has been demonstrated that it can be done safely, there will be a huge increase in support.

    I find it funny that the main reason for opposing fracking with the Antis is loss and destruction of natural environment. How about solar panel farms and wind turbines? (Personally I think wind turbines are an fascinating visual). But the amount of land those solar panels take up for relatively little energy is staggering.

    • One or two exploratory wells being scrutinised at an unsustainable level does not equal a safe fracking industry. Once the public come to realise the scale of this industry I suspect they won’t like what they see.

    • ‘once it has been demonstrated that it can be done safely, there will be a huge increase in support’ – can’t wait for that unicorn moment!

    • The amount of land needed for solar panels is miniscule, and can be done on rooftops so need no extra land take. Even if they cover land, they can be moved without damage to the environment. Once you have polluted/fractured productive land and clean drinking water supplies from fracking, you have a long term problem. Many people benefit financially from solar panels and battery back up and rapidly fallingcosts makes solar a no brainer in our sustainable energy mix. Fracking is just not cost competive. It is not viable. And not wanted.

  8. The antis insisted that the more people that got to hear about fracking the larger the percentage would oppose it. Unfortunately they forgot to realise the public aren’t quite as naive as them in general and are prepared to test the waters as one would say.
    Google and fake stories of doom don’t lure everyone in.
    Bets the antis think that the Syrian scenario was suspicious as was Salisbury, so easily swayed by foreign propoganda.

    • ‘Google and fake stories of doom don’t lure everyone in.’ – only Martin.

      Peer reviewed research and witness statement on the other hand….

      Ah yes, the propaganda and ‘nudge psychology’ employed by….yes you guessed it – the oil and gas industry; most of it on here snoringly enough!

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