10% support UK fracking – new record low in government survey

200206 Wave 32 summary

Source: BEIS

Just one in ten people support fracking in the UK, according to the latest results in a quarterly government survey.

The figure is a new low in support for the process, down from a high of almost a third in 2014.

Just 1% of people questioned strongly supported fracking.

The level of opposition to fracking also fell in this survey, from a record high in September 2019.

200206 Wave 32 totals

The research, for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was conducted in December 2019. It was the first of these surveys to be carried out after the government announced an immediate moratorium on fracking following concerns about fracking-induced earth tremors.


200206 Wave 32 support

Total support for fracking stood at 10%. This was down one percentage point on the previous survey in September 2019, itself a record low. It was down three percentage points on the survey in December 2018.

200206 Wave 32 support strong

The proportion of people who said they strongly supported fracking remained at 1%.

The highest ever level of support for fracking was recorded in March 2014 (29%) and the highest level of strong support was in December 2013 (6%).

Why do people support fracking?

200206 Wave 32 support reasons

In the reasons given to support fracking, there were increases for May result in cheaper energy bills.

Other reasons saw falls including Need to use all available energy sources, Reduces dependence on other fossil fuels and Reduces dependence on other countries for UK’s energy supply.

Key reasons

  • Need to use all available energy sources 37% (40% in September 2019)
  • Reduces dependence on other fossil fuels 26% (31% in September 2019)
  • Reduces dependence on other countries for UK’s energy supply 21% (23% in September 2019)
  • May result in cheaper energy bills 23% (17% in September 2019)
  • Good for local jobs and investment 22% (24% in September 2019
  • Will have a positive impact on UK economy 17% (18% in September 2019)
  • Will have a positive impact on climate change 11% (10% in September 2019)


200206 Wave 32 oppose

Total opposition to fracking in December 2019 was 41%.

This was three percentage points down on the previous survey in September 2019 (44%), a record high, but six percentage points higher than the figure in December 2018 (35%).

200206 Wave 32 attitude summary

Source: BEIS

Opposition to fracking, according to the survey, was higher among older age groups.

Half the participants in the survey aged 55 and over opposed fracking.

This compared with 44% for 45-54 year-olds, 35% of 25-34 year-olds and 28% of 16-24 year olds.

Regionally, opposition was highest in Northern Ireland (55%), Scotland (54%), north west England (50%) and Wales (49%).

Opposition in all other regions was 40% or below. Opposition was lowest in London at 26%.

200206 Wave 32 oppose strong

Strong opposition was 16%, down three percentage points on the previous survey (19%), a record high.

Why do people oppose fracking?

200206 Wave 32 oppose reaons

Concerns about loss or destruction of the natural environment remained the largest reason given to oppose fracking. It rose to 64%, up from 57% in the previous survey.

The risk of earthquakes saw a large increase in the previous survey following seismic activity induced by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in August 2019. The December 2019 survey recorded a fall of two percentage points to 46%.

Reasons including Too much risk/uncertainty, Not a safe process, Use of chemicals and Negative impact on climate change also saw falls.

Key reasons

  • Loss or destruction of natural environment 64% (57% in September 2019)
  • Risk of earthquakes 46% (48% in September 2019)
  • Risk of contamination to water supply 18% (22% in September 2019)
  • Too much risk/uncertainty to support 14% (20% in September 2019)
  • Not a safe process 24% (26% in September 2019)
  • Should focus on developing renewables 16% (16% in September 2019)
  • Negative impact on climate change 14% (18% in September 2019)
    Use of chemicals in the process 12%( 16% in September 2019)

“The more you know, the less you like it”

200206 Wave 32 attitudes summary awareness

Source: BEIS

The survey found that among people who said they knew a lot about fracking, 72% opposed and 16% supported.

People who said they knew less about fracking were more likely to say they neither opposed nor supported.

Total awareness of shale gas remained unchanged at 78%, the figure recorded in the previous five surveys.

200206 Wave 32 summary awareness

According to the survey, awareness of fracking was highest among:

  • Men (83% compared with 74% for women)
  • People aged 55 and over (90%, compared with 60% for people aged 16-24)
  • People in social grades AB (91%, compared with 62% for people in social grades DE)

People living in London were least likely to be aware of fracking (55% compared with 73% or more in other regions.

Polarised opinions

200206 Wave 32 gap

The gap between support and opposition has narrowed slightly to 31% (down from a record gap of 33% in September 2019). But it was nine points wider than the 22% recorded a year earlier.

200206 Wave 32 neither support nor oppose

People who said they neither supported nor opposed rose slightly to 45%. This was up two percentage points on September 2019’s record low.

The proportion of people who said they neither supported nor opposed was back again as the largest percentage.

The main reason for neither supporting nor opposing fracking was again not knowing enough about it (78%).

200206 Wave dont know

The proportion who said “don’t know” was up one percentage point to 3%.


Data for the survey, Wave 32, is based on 4,212 face-to-face in-home interviews with a representative sample of UK adults aged 16 and over on 4-22 December 2019.

Interviews were carried out using the Kantar UK Omnibus, which uses a random location quota sampling method.

All charts use data from the Wave 32 survey by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy










8 replies »

  1. I suspect that most of the increase in opposition over the last twelve months are PI’s that have lost all their money investing in the industry, because they believed all the ‘get rich quick’ hype. Not anymore.

  2. Why 12 months Matthew and not 12 days?? Would that because the maths. don’t fit so well? Get rich quick? Hmm. Could have done that within the last few days, so not hype.

    Perhaps investing in companies that are involved with fracking is just like investing in some “green” companies? Where profit is not the motive, but all based around the way some would like the world to be, so sitting on that moral high ground with you!

    Although, with opposition below half of those questioned, and reducing, there is quite a lot of space on that high ground.

  3. Sounds like the antis have been very good at spreading scare stories [edited by moderator]. They did the same with GM foods. What’s next? 5G, vaccines, fluoride in water?

    • If the oil and gas industry, with their multi million pound PR budgets, the right wing media, lobbyists and the government all behind them have not been able to convince the public maybe the antis have a point.

      • Pauline – one minute you are worried that the companies don’t have enough money to decommission their wells and the next you’re saying they have so much money that they can have amazing PR campaigns- which is it?

    • Simon, sour grapes? The fight against fracking has been a focused and a community based campaign. Very much a David and Goliath situation, where communities have taken on powerful companies, company lawyers, PR companies, UKOOG and the government. And despite claims to the contrary, without funding from Russia! Most communities have simply given significant amounts of their own time and money to the cause. Fracking has so many negative impacts that despite the many millions spent by the industry, the public, an increasing number of politicians and many academics have not been persuaded. You can throw accusations and insults about as you frequently do on this forum, but that does not change facts. Public support for fracking is low, there is a moratorium in place, there is nothing in the Conservative manifesto in support of fracking and that climate change targets are only set to tighten further. Indeed, a survey the Conservative’s carried out of their members and of voters found support for fracking was low. And even with voters in Conservative held constituencies support was low. We shall see how things develop but personally I cannot see the industry has any future in the U.K.

Add a comment

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

You are commenting using your 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