Questions on attitudes to fracking dropped from quarterly government survey

Wave 26 public attitudes

For the first time since 2013, a quarterly public attitudes survey for the government has not asked questions on whether people support or oppose fracking.

The latest findings, published this morning, cover only whether people were aware of the process.

Previously, 18 surveys for the Wave public attitudes tracker had asked whether people supported or opposed fracking for shale gas and by how much. It also asked people why they supported or opposed.

The survey is commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Before the most recent survey, BEIS carried out a review.  Its response to the review, also published this morning, said questions about shale gas would now be asked annually, rather than quarterly, starting in April 2019.

It said:

“We will not be amending these questions at this stage but will continue to review them to ensure its reliability and value to the department and users.”

Questions about renewable energy remained in today’s survey results but there was not a question about attitudes to nuclear. This will also be asked annually.

A spokesperson for BEIS told DrillOrDrop:

“Following public consultation, we have amended the Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT) to reflect the department’s broadened policy portfolio following its transition from DECC to BEIS.”

“This approach will allow us to ask more topical focused questions on areas such as consumer issues or employment rights to a wider range of respondents.”


According to data from previous surveys, support for fracking had fallen since a record high of 29% in March 2014. Most recently, there were two consecutive increases in support. Opposition reached a record high last summer (36%) and, as usual, dropped slightly in the winter.

Wave 26 support

Wave 26 oppose

In the previous survey, carried out in March-April 2018, support for fracking stood at 18% of participants and opposition at 32%. People who neither supported nor opposed stood at 47% and people who “didn’t know” was 4%. 2% of participants strongly supported fracking and 13% strongly opposed.

In March-April 2018, the main reasons for supporting shale gas were: Reduce dependence on other countries for energy supply (36%); need to use all available energy sources (35%) and reduce dependence on other fossil fuels (31%).

The main reasons for opposition were: Loss or destruction of the environment (57%); risk of contamination to water supply (31%); too much risk or uncertainty (28%); risk of earthquakes (29%)


Today’s results did include questions about the level of support for renewables.

82% of participants said they supported renewables, with 37% strongly supporting. 4% opposed renewables, with 1% strongly opposing. 13% neither supported nor opposed and 1% didn’t know.


Wave 26 Awareness 1

On shale gas, the survey found that 78% were aware. This was up slightly on the previous figure of 76%.

14% of participants knew a lot, up from 12% in the previous survey.46% knew a little, also up from the previous survey (42%). 18% said they were aware of shale gas but did not really know what it was. 22% had never heard of it, down slightly from 24% in the previous survey.

Wave 26 Awareness 2

As with previous surveys, the most recent findings showed that awareness of fracking was higher among people aged 55-64 (91%), in social grade AB (90%) and with household incomes of £25,000-£34,999 (88%).

BEIS said awareness was also highest among people living in Northern Ireland (88%) where there is a presumption against fracking.


Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for south east England, said:

“Ministers have been asking the public whether they support fracking on a quarterly basis for over four years. But, despite a huge PR push, opposition has always outstripped support—which has never exceeded 30% and long languished below 20%.

“How have the Conservatives responded to such a consistent rejection of the climate-destructive industry? By stopping asking what we think so often and giving fracking the green light in the meantime. While, at the same time, pushing through plans to cut our local government representatives out of the decision-making process.

“For all it’s rhetoric, you couldn’t ever accuse this Government of caring about ‘the will of people’. More and more, Britain is being governed by corporations for corporations; the people don’t get a look in.”


The Wave 26 tracker carried out 4,268 face-face in-home interviews with a representative sample of adults aged 16+. Fieldwork was conducted from 11-17 July 2018 on the Kantar TNS Omnibus. The questionnaire was designed by BEIS and Kantar Public.

Updated  at 11.40am with information and link to government consultation response to the Wave tracker and to include reaction from Keith Taylor.


48 replies »

  1. Am I reading this right? Going into peoples homes to conduct the survey? This cannot be a representative sample as homes not surveyed may be within a “No cold calling” area. If this is the case, how do you get samples from large areas of Blackpool?

  2. Perhaps the government has decided to replace the question with the more abstract question ‘Do you believe the BBC?’ If they find this answer not in their favour, they might decide it’s best to stop asking any attitude surveys on anything at all and concentrate with getting on with the corporation’s bidding with no pretence at democracy.

    • I doubt very many people, if any, in Blackpool were surveyed if the survey covers the whole country including N Ireland. There would probably be a different result if only those in areas covered by PEDL licences were surveyed.

  3. What a telling decision by the government. They realise that they are never going to get social licence for fracking, so they’ve just stopped asking the question. Unbelievable (or, given the current government, actually completely believeable).

  4. No, as usual, you don’t have it right, refracktion.

    Diversion and smoke screen attempt-takes me back to negotiating with clients who also thought they were valid tactics. They always ended up with a poor deal as it simply showed they were easily confused with maths-and they were!

    I recognise it has not been a good day, but soon be the weekend and you can console yourselves with some poetry. Ten Green Bottles would be appropriate and would fill a lot of space to give a semblance of dialogue.

    • Martin – the numbers are really rather simple to understand. I’m sure even you will manage.

      Twice as many people oppose fracking as support it.
      A tiny percentage “strongly supports” fracking. (That’s probably you and Peeny)
      The more people self-identify as knowing about fracking the less they like it.

      That’s it really – The rest of your laughable “maths” and deflections don’t matter a jot 🙂

  5. Those who read the Guardian John, will automatically assume anything authorised by the Tories is witch craft. So, your point is what? They will think it double witch craft?

    Really grasping at straws now.

    • I thought the Guardian was generally read by Red Torys … according to the Scottish. You too must be grasping at straws to accuse people of full belief in mainstream press.

  6. No, Richard, I believe in none of the media. Which is why, I do my own research-eg. I speak to the pilot who sees the oil tankers in and out of Fawley Refinery and find out where the oil comes from. An old fashioned approach I know, but saves time on working out which of the multiple incorrect media sources point in the right direction.

    • This whole response is just hilarious. Clearly your two thirds have been dumped in favour of the now 84% who support renewables; as for those who support fracking, well clearly they are off the scale; ha ha bloody ha!

      • ….your chosen deity help us when they do the April 2019 survey after the shaky shaky; I can’t stop laughing…….hilarious; where’s that sodding ostrich, it needs a medal!

  7. The majority of people are not against fracking refracktion. Most of the minority against fracking do not have a good understanding of the subject, and from the latest (previous one) survey data, that minority was in decline.

    Not unusual. Many such new developments have the same profiles, and quite easy to see within market research for those who want to see.

    All pretty obvious and crystal clear for those outside the fog. But, the fog generation always increases when bad news can’t be avoided. That is rather instructive in itself. But you have my sympathies, as you seem to draw the short straw. I recall the same attempts at “analysing” the FOE ASA issue. Same result.

    • Most of the minority for fracking do not have a good understanding of the subject, and from the latest (previous one) survey data, that minority was hidden from view.

      Have a lovely day 😉

  8. You have stumbled upon the key element there, Sherwulfe. Of course, most of those who support fracking being tested in the UK do NOT have a good understanding of the subject, as there are no output records or economics-yet. (You will note the reaction after the Beast from the East that indicates that just might be a factor.) The difference is, we want to see them and get that good understanding, the antis don’t.

    If you ask a group whether they would support a new car without telling them how much it will cost or what it’s performance is you will find very few will support it. (Unless it is a Tesla and a few get sprinkled with some “spin”.) It’s hardly rocket science and only sensible until that sort of information is available not to keep asking the question on a quarterly basis. Oh, they have done just that. What a surprise.

    As, and when, that information starts to be available maybe quarterly will be re-instated. I suspect the antis will then whinge again, as the movements could become more dramatic, but not in their direction. Yes, that depends on the results, so, bring them on.

    Have a good weekend.

    I will leave you to your “poetry”-can recommend Ten Green Bottles (now down to the abridged version)- as I have promised to start de-cluttering and can put it off no longer with the months ticking by, and the tip keeps introducing new charges for selected materials.

    • You are waffling again, MC. Make sure all your empties are not on the wall when the shaky shaky comes; thanks for the good wishes, I definitely will 😉

  9. Martin sometimes it is better to stop when you’re losing. The figures speak for themselves and are clear for all to see. People can read the statistics. Only a small minority support fracking. The government has clearly given up on these surveys where support of fracking is concerned. Sometimes insisting on having the last word doesn’t make you right, it just digs a deeper hole.

  10. There is no hole KatT. (No piling underway.) You keep your comfort blanket but many don’t need one and recognise if two thirds of those surveyed are not against an item, then it will be unlikely to be changed.

    I just love the idea that I could have run an advertising campaign during my career and claimed “success” that one third of my target audience believed the proposition but two thirds did not. I think I might have been told that two thirds was a bigger group and that none of them were convinced, even if some were on the fence.


    If I was losing, KatT, you would not be concerned. Maybe you are more concerned that the last quarterly survey actually showed a decline in those against fracking?

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