Support for fracking has risen and opposition fallen, according to results from a government survey published today.
A quarter of participants supported fracking for shale gas, while more than a third (36%) opposed. 28% said they neither supported nor opposed and 10% did not know.
The survey is part of the quarterly Wave tracker of public attitudes for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
But today’s findings can’t be compared with data going back to December 2013 because of changes to survey methods made during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Previous surveys were carried out face-to-face with people in their homes. In May, DrillOrDrop reported on the March 2020 in-home survey, which revealed record levels of opposition to fracking.
Today’s results were based on an online survey carried out in June. There was also online fieldwork carried out in parallel to the March in-home survey.
BEIS said these online surveys showed support for fracking rose from 19% in the parallel survey to 25% in June 2020. Strong support rose over the same period from 5% to 6%.
The online results saw opposition to fracking fall from 42% in the parallel survey to 36% in June 2020. Strong opposition fell from 21% to 18%.
“Opposition higher among older people”
According to today’s survey results, younger people were less likely to oppose fracking than older people.
The results found that 28% of people aged 16-24 opposed fracking, compared with 48% aged 55-64 and 37% aged 65 and over.
The proportion who said they neither supported nor opposed fracking was broadly consistent across all age groups (26%-31%), the survey found.
Reasons to support and oppose
The most frequently-stated reasons for people supporting fracking were:
- Need to use all available energy sources (55%)
- Reduce the dependence on other fossil fuels (52%)
- Reducing dependence on other countries for UK energy supply (52%)
- Positive impact on the UK economy (50%)
The most frequently-stated reasons for opposing fracking were:
- Loss/destruction of the natural environment (63%)
- Risk of earthquakes (59%)
- Too much risk or uncertainty (53%)
- Not a safe process (51%)
- Risk of contamination of water supply (50%)
The main reason for neither supporting nor opposing fracking was not knowing enough about it (47%).
The June 2020 online survey found that 89% said they had some awareness of fracking. 11% said they knew a lot about the process and 54% said they knew a little. 11% said they had never heard of fracking.
These results were similar to those found in the parallel online survey.
According to the June online survey, older people were more aware of fracking than younger people.
98% of people aged 65 and over were aware of fracking, compared with 79% of those aged 16-24.
People in social grades AB were also more likely to be aware of fracking (93%, compared with 86% of people in grades DE), the survey found.
Data for June 2020 online survey, Wave 34, had a sample size of 4,011 collected via the Kantar online omnibus survey between 4-9 June 2020. A parallel online survey to the March face-face survey had a sample size of 2,544, also collected by the Kantar online omnibus, between 3-7 April 2020.