Record high for opposition to fracking and record low for support – government survey

Summary results Wave 33 Mar 2020

Results of the Wave 33 survey for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Opposition to fracking has reached a record high of 45%, according to a quarterly government survey of public attitudes.

Data released this morning shows that opposition was up from 41% in the previous survey in December 2019 and 40% for the same time a year ago.

Support for fracking fell to a new record low of 8%. Just 1% of those surveyed strongly supported fracking.

Detailed results Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

The research, for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was conducted in March 2019. The fieldwork was carried out before the coronavirus lockdown. But it was stopped early because of the outbreak and the sample size was smaller than previous recent surveys.


Opposition Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

Total opposition to fracking rose to 45%, up four percentage points on the survey in December 2019 and one on the previous record high in September 2019.

Opposition to fracking has shown an increasing trend, from a low of 21% when the question was first asked in December 2013.

Opposition strong Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

Strong opposition to fracking rose to 18%, up from 16% in December 2019. The record level for people who strongly opposed fracking was 19% in September 2019.

According to the survey data, opposition to fracking more likely among:

  • Men (47% compared with 42% for women)
  • People aged 55-64 (57% compared with 34% aged 16-24)
  • Social grades AB (54%, compared with 34% for people in grades DE)

Why do people oppose fracking?

Opposition reasons Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

Concerns about loss or destruction of the natural environment remained the main reason to oppose fracking. The risk of earthquakes remained above 40% for the third consecutive survey. This followed seismic activity induced by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in August 2019.

In the March 2020 survey, more people said they were concerned about the risks of the process, the impact on climate change and the use of chemicals.

Key reasons

  • Loss and destruction of natural environment 57% (64% in December 2019)
  • Risk of earthquakes 45% (46% in December 2019)
  • Risk of contamination to water supply 19% (18% in December 2019)
  • Too much risk/uncertainty to support 18% (14% in December 2019)
  • Not a safe process 27% (24% in December 2019)
  • Should focus on developing renewables 15% (16% in December 2019)
  • Negative impact on climate change 18% (14% in December 2019)
  • Use of chemicals in the process 15% (12% in December 2019)


Support Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

Total support for fracking fell to a record low of 8%. This is two percentage points down on the previous survey, itself a record low.

The level of support was down four percentage points on data from a year ago in March 2019 (12%).

It marks a declining trend in support for fracking from a record high in March 2014 (29%).

Support strong Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

Why do people support fracking?

Support reasons Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

The need to use all available energy sources remained the reason most widely mentioned for supporting fracking. But there was increases in March 2020 in the people who mentioned “reduces dependence on other fossil fuels” and “reduces dependence on other countries for UK energy”.

Key reasons

  • Need to use all available energy sources 36% (37% in December 2019)
  • Reduces dependence on other fossil fuels 34 (26% in December 2019)
  • Reduces dependence on other countries for UK’s energy supply 27% (21% in December 2019)
  • May result in cheaper energy bills 22% (23% in December 2019)
  • Good for local jobs and investment 23% (22% in December 2019
  • Will have a positive impact on UK economy 16% (17% in December 2019)
  • Will have a positive impact on climate change 14% (11% in December 2019)

Polarised opinions

Gap Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

The gap between support and opposition in March 2020 also reached a record of -37%.

This was up from -31% in December 2019 and the previous record of -33% in September 2019.

Neither support nor oppose Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

The proportion of people who neither supported nor opposed fracking was stable at 45%. This was up two percentage points on the record low in September 2019 (43%). The record high was 50% in September 2018.

According to the data, the main reason for neither supporting nor opposing fracking was not knowing enough about it (75%).

People aged 16-24 were less likely to have an opinion (58% compared with 35% aged 55-64 and 38% for people aged 65 and over).


Awareness Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

The survey found that 78% of participants were aware of fracking. This has remained stable since December 2018.

Awareness detail Wave 33 Mar 2020

Source: BEIS

10% of people said they knew a lot about fracking and 22% said they were aware but didn’t really know what it was. 22% said they had never heard of it – this figure has also been stable since December 2018.

The survey found that awareness of fracking was higher among:

  • Men (84% compared with 72% for women)
  • People aged 55-64 (92% compared with 62% for people aged 16-24)
  • People in social grades AB (89%)
  • People who were very or fairly concerned about climate change (82% compared with 65% who were not very or not at all concerned)


Data for the survey, Wave 33, is based on 1,851 face-to-face in-home interviews conducted with a representative sample of UK adults aged over 16. Fieldwork was conducted from 11-17 March 2020 on the Kantar UK Omnibus which uses a random location sample approach.

7 replies »

  1. Those who oppose still below 50%!!

    With a moratorium in place currently, a pretty disappointing result for those who would like to maintain they are the majority view.

    And with only 10% knowing “a lot” about fracking, the anti foundations appear to be rather unstable, with or without any seismic activity.

    So, in summary, not many know much about the subject but have excited some more who admit they know little or nothing about the subject to come to a “conclusion” without the desire or the effort to become informed.

    Think we knew that.

    • Dear, dear MARTIN ,

      Still trying to talk up the failing , white elephant, UK fracking industry …

      Having difficulty with your maths ?????? Looks like Jack will have to crowd fund you the Bill and Ben the flower pot men nursery guide to mathematics to help you better understand the above data ….

      Increasingly , UK Fracking is becoming as popular as a hole in the head….

      Give up you fanatical quest of trying to sell Fracking to the UK population, accept it’s over …… To be bluntly honest with you old buddy , you’d have a better chance of selling snow to Eskimos.

      • Well, little green Jack, that was something, but certainly not a very professional appraisal of the data.

        Goodness, anyone would suspect you were simply displaying an opinion!

        Meanwhile the data shows only 10% have a good knowledge of the subject (STILL!) and yet 45% oppose it.

        So, Jack, you are one of the 35%, with an opinion based upon partial knowledge of the subject. Congratulations. Not the first time that has been displayed, is it?! We had the NT and then the Permian, so another one of those “trends”.

        And, Jack, every time this survey is published I remind you, or another of the Jacks, my interest is to see UK fracking for gas properly tested. Not trying to sell it to anyone, but I would like to see it properly and fully tested. That has yet to be done. You see, I will make up my mind based upon that, not some sort of incomplete picture that is then clouded in irrelevant fog derived from dubious and/or unscientific links. (Sorry, but the irrelevant fog will still be challenged when required.)
        If I end up supporting it, or rejecting it, I would like to be in the 10% first. However, I do find it a bit strange ANYONE is in the 10% now, when there is NO UK economic data in respect of real production rates or costs available, other than opinion and speculation-that you are fond of placing on the “record” as real. Perhaps the 55% not opposing feel they are not qualified, or prepared, to reach your sort of “opinion”, without that? That certainly seems to be the response I have met with when discussing the subject with some individuals who I would classify in the not for/not against group.

  2. Whoa so much spin Martin, please stop it you are making us dizzy 🤮.

    We can read a trend without any help from the 1%.

  3. Would that be a Lib Dem “trend”, Dorkinian?? Someone was trying to explain one of those recently on DoD. What did happen to Jo Swinson?

    There are MANY trends in a market. Some are large and significant and others are not so.

    Brent Crude up again today. Is that a trend? Or, a correction?

    I had many years in marketing so have conducted many attitude surveys. You can place your own spin upon the numbers, but I look at them in marketing terms. A new product or process that has had many years delay and NO economic benefits yet demonstrated, whilst being attacked by the competition, and the data still shows this???

    I would suggest that is quite remarkable resilience, based upon my professional experience.

    I would add that whether companies maintain an interest in this market is another question altogether, but my opinion of the data stands.

  4. MARTIN,

    YOUR looking at the graph the WRONG way up …

    As you’ll now see, the graph shows support for fracking is on a steady and continual trajectory downwards ….. Just like the Igas share price …..

    Now you may try and amuse the readers by trying to put a positive spin on this downward spiral and I commend you for that . In these darkened times we all need a little laughter , but moving on to a more serious note , anyone with the intellectual capabilities above a common garden earthworm can see that the UK Fracking industry is going down the toilet .

    For the record and DOD will be able to confirm this , there is only one jackthelad .

  5. Sorry, my little friend, we have discussed the topics you, and/or Big Blue Jack, little blue jack and Big Green Jack repeat several times over! DoD can NOT confirm there is only one Jack, unless they have some way of testing for your fingers on a keyboard. Now, you may feel that anyone, of any age, on a keyboard has difficulty grasping that, but do not worry about it. The reality of that situation is also known to most people-yeah-a majority! I wouldn’t suggest you need much of an intellectual capability to work that out.

    We have never had a UK fracking industry Jack. It may amuse you to distantly suggest at 11.30pm UK time, that we have, but that is your regular problem with trying to keep up with what is common knowledge in UK. What there has been, is an attempt to test the process, that has been pretty patchy, and incomplete. I can not see under current circumstances a rush to remedy that. I would suspect that the tracking survey will be discontinued fairly soon if those circumstances continue.

    So, perhaps not a good demonstration of even an earthworms intellectual capability to suggest an industry that doesn’t exist is going down the toilet. With, or without, the tracking survey, any activity around testing and the moratorium will be minimal. Igas have made that pretty clear, and Ineos have their drilling to work through in USA.

    (YOUR and you’ll?? Interesting.)

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