Research

Government survey: Fracking opposition rises to new high while support falls to record low

Wave 29 summary attitudes

Results from the latest government survey on fracking shows that public opposition has risen to its highest level so far and support dropped to a record low.

The quarterly Wave tracker survey indicates that opponents regard fracking as a risky or unsafe process and are concerned about earthquakes and the impact on climate change.

The survey was conducted in March 2019 at a time when the shale gas industry was calling for a relaxation of regulations on fracking-induced earth tremors. There were also continuing discussions about government proposals to make non-fracking shale gas schemes permitted development, avoiding the formal planning process.

Opposition

Wave 29 oppose

According to the latest results, 40% of participants opposed fracking, up from 35% in the most recent survey conducted in December 2018, and up from 21% in December 2013.

This survey saw the largest increase in opposition since it was first carried out and the third consecutive rise in opposition.

wave 29 strong oppose

Strong opposition was also at record levels, up to 16%, compared with 13% in the previous survey.

Who opposes fracking?

As in previous surveys, the results found that opposition was higher among people who knew more about fracking.

Among people who said they knew a lot or a little about fracking, 16% of people said they supported the process and 56% said they opposed.

Opposition to fracking was highest in north-west England (50%), Wales (49%) and Scotland (49%). It was lowest in London (30%), east England (31%) and the west midlands (32%).

Why do people oppose fracking?

Wave 29 reasons to oppose

The main reasons why people opposed fracking were:

  • Loss or destruction of natural environment 57%, (down from 62%)
  • Risk of earthquakes 45% (up from 40% after a previous rise from 26%)
  • Risk of contamination to water supply 23% (up slightly from 22%)
  • Too much risk/uncertainty 26% (up from 20%)
  • Not a safe process 29% (up from 24%)
  • Use of chemicals (up/down from 15%)

Support for fracking

Wave 29 support1

Support for fracking fell to 12% of participants, down slightly on 13% in the previous survey. This is the lowest level recorded by the survey so far and is 17 percentage points below the peak in March 2014.

Strong support for fracking remained unchanged at 2%.

Wave 29 strong support

The gap between support and opposition is now at its biggest so far. The 28% difference increased six percentage points from the previous survey and passed the previous high of 23% reached in September 2017.

Wae 29 gap

Why do people support fracking?

Wave 29 reasons for support

The main reasons people gave for supporting fracking were:

  • Need to use all available energy sources 35% (up from 34%)
  • Reduces dependence on other fossil fuels 33% (up from 26%)
  • Reduces dependence on other countries for UK energy 26% (up from 25%)
  • May result in cheaper energy bills (unchanged on the previous survey)
  • Positive impact on the UK economy 17% (down from 19%)

Neither support nor oppose

Wave 29 neither support nor oppose

45% of participants neither supported nor opposed fracking. This was 2% down on the previous survey and the lowest figure since December 2015.

Wave 29 don't know

3% said they did not know whether they supported or opposed, down one point on the previous survey.

The survey found that 77% of people who knew less about fracking said they neither support nor opposed it. Among this group, support was 6% and opposition was 17%.

Awareness

wave 29 awareness

78% of participants were aware of fracking for shale gas. This was unchanged on the previous survey.

13% said they knew a lot about fracking (up 2 points from the previous survey). 45% said they knew a little and 19% were aware. 22% said they had never heard of fracking, unchanged on the previous survey.

According to the findings, awareness of fracking was higher among:

  • Men (82%, compared with 73% of women)
  • People aged 55+ (91%, compared with 58% of those aged 16-24)
  • Social grade AB (90%, compared with 64% of respondents in social grades DE)

Reaction

Friends of the Earth clean energy campaigner, Jamie Peters, said:

“With support for fracking at all all-time low and overwhelming public concern about climate change, it’s time to pull the plug on this destructive, unnecessary and unwanted industry.

“Ministers must listen to the mounting scientific evidence on climate change, huge backing for renewable energy, and growing demand for tougher action.

“This means abandoning support for climate-wrecking fracking and fossil fuels and instead championing energy saving and power from the wind, waves and sun. This is what the science requires and the public demand. It’s time to stop dithering and get on with it.”

Daniel Carey-Dawes, Infrastructure Policy Manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said

“Not only does the government’s own survey demonstrate that public opposition to fracking has reached an all-time high, but support for this fossil fuel industry has also dropped to a record low.

“Almost one year later, the government has yet to respond to its consultation over plans to fast-track fracking, which would remove the voices of local communities in decisions over fracking proposals in their area. What further evidence does the government need in order to drop these proposals?

“At a time when the warnings about the severity of climate breakdown and the urgent need for decarbonisation are becoming more and more stark, it is beyond belief that the government continues to doggedly pursue their fracking agenda in defiance of public opinion.”

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“The results are indicative of the battle the shale gas industry has faced since appearing in communities where they are not wanted. The long-term trends are clear: fracking is continuously and increasingly failing to win the support of communities, in spite of the intensive green-washing efforts by the industry.

“Support for renewable energy remains high, with 84% of respondents polled expressing support, and with strong support surging from 30% to 37%.

“With the damning report by the IPCC released last month, urgent global action to decarbonise is now needed. This also means there is no need or room for a new dirty fossil fuel industry like fracking.

“We require urgent political action on climate change and investment on clean energy sources if we are to mitigate the impending impacts of climate change.”

Methodology

The fieldwork was carried out for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from 13-24 March 2019 using the Kantar TNS Omnibus. The results of the Wave 29 tracker were based on face-to-face home interviews with a representative sample of 4,224 households in the UK.

The survey dropped a question on attitudes to fracking in July 2018 but reinstated it in September 2018.

83 replies »

  1. I’m not quite sure why one would worry about the opinion of people who know zero about a subject. We wouldn’t take seriously the public’s opinion on general relativity and in the same way I don’t see why we should even consider their views on fracking.

    • I’m absolutely certain that you don’y give a {edited by moderator} about the public at all Judith.

      However without that critically important social licence to operate (which we can see evaporating with every wave) you and your pals are going nowhere. Get used to it and stop being so arrogant – after all you are just showing yourself to be part of the problem they have here.

      • Oh well we can always continue to import gas in the form of frozen LNG from Qatar, Russia & the USA as we are increasingly doing. That obviously gives us the moral high ground.

  2. Informed views maybe Judith. But there doesn’t seem many of those on show-and that is not just around fracking itself but quite a few other areas of ever day life in the UK. However, I do have sympathy for the UK non antis because how can they be informed until they have appraised the benefits?

    Not much sympathy for the antis who seem to think they are “informed” without that information and cloak themselves with false information around that aspect from other countries, the Guardian, RT or even worse.

    But that’s life today. I even know some who look for marriage guidance from their Facebook “friends” and really believe it genuine. Good job some of these youngsters are getting it sussed now and that will eventually bring the balance back. (That together with Nigel as PM taking UK back to Imperial measurements after Brexit to develop the little grey cells, and UK out of the Eurovision “Song” Contest to stop them being killed off again! Spot the fake news? Or, maybe, not!!!)

    • ‘I even know some who look for marriage guidance from their Facebook “friends” and really believe it genuine.’ – evidence please; looking forward to this one….

      • Interesting times you decide to post, Passepartout! Perhaps, marriage guidance at 1.09am whilst tapping the plastic may be of great interest to you-but, suggest you TALK with FAMILY and FRIENDS. They may give better advice on how to avoid the need.

        • Phileas, don’t you know I am running around trying to support your 80 day journey of nonsense; time has no meaning; we are having a good time, aren’t we?

          And you know I am not keen on talking to imaginary people, but really would love to see more of your facebook marriage guidance page….

          • I suspect you would, Passepartout. However, I have never seen the need to take part in Facebook. I know enough people who do and have been disappointed because they didn’t understand, as Dominic (11) now does, that people tell lies on the internet. Good job, outside of Facebook, there are the likes of (aka) Eddy Stone, shining a light through the fog to bring the lost souls safely home.

            Talking of which, managed to do your homework regarding what St. Keverne thinks about seismic events yet?

            • Sorry teach, fink yeh got da wrong puupil…

              You seem to have posted a lot about facebook without knowledge of the same; humm, familiar?

  3. Fracking debate has been in local Fylde for many years now. If it was an important issues for local then they would have voted out the Conservatives in the local election last week. But in all local poll that have ongoing fracking license all the Tory councillors held their seat. So it is obvious it is not a major issue for most local voters.
    The net zero emission is going to put the UK on the two energy sources that are least secure (imported gas) and most intermittent (renewables). Imagine the scenario when the oversea supply of gas is turned off at the same time when the sun dont shine and the wind dont blow.

    • TGN – we dealt with this over on Hot Copper mate.

      As somebody who actually lives on the Fylde I can assure you that the continued strength of the Conservative vote has nothing to do with fracking or Brexit. As a prominent conservative lady once said to me “they would vote for an ape with its backside hanging out if its trousers if it was wearing a blue rosette round here”.

  4. Ahh, once again posting about something outside of your expertise, (delayed) reaction, brain!

    Next, it will be cars driven by electricity.

    Bit tetchy, this week?

    Lost the smiley face key? Or, disappointed about still being a minority, after giving it the fake build up?

    Anyway, have a good weekend. I’m off to cut the grass-petrol can be so helpful-and bag up some logs for needy friends, to assist them from falling into fuel poverty.

  5. “We know”-this from the person pontificating about taxation within the last few days! No, you may not understand taxation, slow reaction, after all you bought a diesel, but many do and THEY understand that when industry pays more tax then either the individual pays less or there is a bigger tax pool which can then be spent on fuel poverty gaps, MPs expenses or whatever.

    But seeing what accountants get up to on the Fylde, as detailed recently, it could be that there is a bit of a fog about taxation in your area!

    You really do seem off form at the moment.

    • OK Martina – so you think fracking is going to fill fuel poverty gaps do you? Really? Go on then explain why you know different from Lord Brown ex of Cuadrilla, and Cuadrilla’s own PR machine. I will look forward to this one.

  6. Lord Brown who speculated in 2013!

    And what happened after that in respect to costs of fracking, slow reaction?

    So, no I am not convinced by someone who speculated and then was proven incorrect a very short time afterwards.

    Whether fracking would fill fuel poverty gaps depends upon how much was conducted and where the tax from it was allocated. Could be done very easily if the tax was significant and the will was there-perhaps an enlarged, means tested, winter fuel payment?

    Seems Norway has managed to find a means of harnessing and utilising the returns from oil and gas-even helps them to switch to electric cars! Oops, sore point.

    But, rather than speculation, there is one simple way to find out, isn’t there! Meanwhile, we can currently leave the problem of how to spend the tax to Donald (another 80 miles of wall?), and add to our creative carbon accounting at the same time. Donald pleased, Greta not.

    Worth the wait, wasn’t it!

    • Why don’t you tell us specifically what has happened to the cost of fracking in the UK – give us your most recent estimate of extraction costs per therm for UK fracking Martian.

      So you genuinely believe that a Conservative government is going to use any tax receipts from fracking to combat fuel poverty. That’s quite sweet I suppose if perhaps a tad naive. And remember they have to offset costs and make a profit before such tax receipts even exist.

      But of course it wasn’t just Lord Browne was it? It was Mark Linder too wasn’t it. How did he phrase it? Ah yes

      “At a meeting in Balcombe, West Sussex, a representative of the firm was asked to comment on whether the exploitation of shale gas in proposed sites in the home counties and the north-east of the country would drive down energy bills for customers.

      ‘We’ve done an analysis and it’s a very small… at the most it’s a very small percentage…basically insignificant,’ said Mark Linder, a PR executive at Bell Pottinger, who is responsible for public relations and corporate development for Cuadrilla.”

      So less Collywibble and more data please. If you are going to make your grand claims you need to back them up with something concrete or you are just wasting everybody’s time here.

  7. Oh dear, slow reaction, you think you speak for everybody now! From the guy who uses Emojis instead of data!

    You really have a problem. Wouldn’t want you to be classified with the other BMW drivers.

    No, I can not predict how any government will allocate tax. I do not claim to. BUT, more tax gives any government the ability to be more generous in the way it spends money (have you listened to a budget being presented by the Chancellor?) and the voter can vote on the basis of a manifesto if it likes the package (and they believe it.) So, do we have any examples to help you? Oh yes, Norway!! Concrete enough? If you have difficulty with reading, someone will read my posts to you. Just direct them to 8.09pm-or did it “cross” with yours of 6.42am? Do you really believe no one on this site recognises how the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund has been generated and how it works? Or, that, UK is currently importing gas and oil from USA fracking and allowing that country ALSO to spend resultant taxation as they please? Perhaps we could buy some gas and oil from France and then the yellow vests could find their fuel costs were adjusted-or, they were taxed less so they could afford higher fuel costs? UK anti generosity knows no barriers! Foreign Aid to some of the wealthiest countries in the world. No wonder you come up with limp excuses on the subject and claim it is not your Achilles!

    Not sure about everybody, but suspect the majority (oops) will be less excitable and more knowledgeable than you give them credit for.

    Neither can I predict-you mean speculate-regarding the extraction price of gas from UK fracking. But, I will be more influenced by Sir Jim who is buying ship loads of US gas that his calculations are more valid than yours, or Lord Browns. Neither would I expect a business at the start of an exploration phase to commit to income for local communities-in addition to taxation for the country-but, 6% has been offered in some places for oil and I would expect something similar to finally emerge.

    But, if it is not going to be attractive in cost terms just accept it will fizzle and die without all the fossil fuel burning from the antis and you will be redundant! I suggest your frantic efforts to stop determination of the economics, yet claiming they will be rubbish, is a big give away-as you know perfectly well the likely impact upon the Tracker Survey.

    You seem easily confused. Driving down the energy bills for customers is a TOTALLY different issue to having more tax in the kitty to allocate. Many of the “everybodies” will not be so confused.

    • How does it go? Ah yes “full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

      I’m really not sure where you get the idea that I don’t want the economics determined. I keep asking you and your friends for best estimates and get nothing but Collywibble in return. It’s normally accompanied by some waffle about how we need to let them try so we can see, but any fule kno that exploration economics won’t be the same as production economics so we don’t fall for that one do we children? 😉

      You seem to be easily confusing yourself. One minute you are suggesting extra tax revenues from fracking will help reduce fuel poverty and the next you are wibbling ” Driving down the energy bills for customers is a TOTALLY different issue to having more tax in the kitty to allocate.”

      You could at least TRY to keep your story consistent on the same thread. 🙂

      Still nothing concrete to back up your claims I see. Imagine my surprise!

  8. Ahh, the dentists probe has found the point of decay! Looks like more drilling required (oops), followed by a visit to the opticians. A busy week for you, especially carrying that limp.

    Speculation is not the same as economics, slow reaction. DOH.

    Even children, but I will hope they are at school so will treat people as adults, can see that I suggested “could” rather than “will”. I even suggested a simple way it COULD be applied. You see, I do not speak for everyone, but I do present the possibilities and everyone can make up their own minds-especially the large numbers of undecided. You can continue to speak for everyone, but I suspect those still undecided will take a rather quizzical view of that, whilst they also keep an eye upon the Strait of Hormuz, recognising that about a fifth of the world’s oil and a quarter of its liquified natural gas passes through it every year and thinking “all looks pretty secure as long as you add a smiley Emoji”.

    I appreciate it was early, but you should be able to find someone to read my post to you shortly. The bit about the Norwegian Wealth Fund was a good starting point for some to do some research, others to just consider. Maybe the odd one will just ignore.

  9. Your ideas of funny are hilarious!

    So, a Wealth Fund (thanks for reading that to him, by the way) that has built up $1 trillion from oil and gas decides to ease their investment into other oil and gas business. How strange?? No, it is called hedging your bets, or not putting all your eggs into one basket, that can be quite a volatile basket! Perhaps have a chat to a few Norwegians-last time I did they were predicting such an adjustment.

    I didn’t seriously suggest anything of the sort, I suggested a Wealth Fund would be a possibility. No mention about it being able to compete with $1 trillion. BUT-it would not need to if it was solely aimed at fuel poverty. Might still save 8000 lives a year plus a lot more misery. (Data, not a smiley face. DYOR.)

    But, of course we have to consider the industrialisation predicted across the north with thousands of wells, so that ANTI prediction, could go a long way!

    You really are off form at the moment. “Everybody” can see that.

    • Here’s another one for you Martian – I have loads more

      “The Conservative MP Charles Hendry, who served as an energy minister until the September reshuffle, has told The Telegraph that shale gas extraction was “unlikely” to be a major industry for the UK or bring down energy costs significantly.”

      It looks like he was certainly right on the first bit doesn’t it? Even Monaco Jim’s Ineos seem to have little ambition for kick starting fracking in the UK these days. As to the second he’s is in plentiful and good company as we have already seen.

      Nobody except you seems to believe that fracking for UK shale gas is going to solve fuel poverty and you are only wriggling because you put yourself on this particular hook a few posts up and as we all know here you are incapable of admitting you made a mistake 🙂

      BTW did you know there is a verb in Alberta, “Norwailing”, to describe what you are trying (and failing) to do?

      How about you show us something concrete as evidence, or even just a quote from somebody credible showing that your claim has some substance? Go on Martian . You know you want to.

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