Support for fracking fell to its lowest level in the latest phase of a government survey of public attitudes, published today.
23% of people questioned in the quarterly Wave Tracker survey supported the process. This was down two percentage points on the figure in December 2020.
Opposition to fracking rose to 36%, up two percentage points from the previous survey.
The gap between support and opposition widened to 13%, the highest in four surveys.
The proportion who neither supported nor opposed fracking has risen over the past four surveys to its highest level of 32%. People who did not know what they felt remained stable at 10%.
The survey, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was carried out in March 2021. There was no fracking for shale gas at the time because of a moratorium or presumptions against fracking across the UK.
Questions about fracking have been asked since 2013. But most of results can’t be compared with the four most recent sets of data because the methodology changed during the Covid-19 outbreak. Up to March 2020, fieldwork used face-to-face in-home interviews. From June 2020-March 2021, the survey used an online panel.
Reasons for support and opposition
The most widely given reason for supporting fracking was the need to use all available energy sources at 52% (down from 56% in December 2020).
Other key reasons given for supporting fracking were:
- 43% Reduces dependence on other fossil fuels (48% in December 2020)
- 46% Reduces dependence on other countries for UK energy supply (48% in December 2020)
- 40% Cheaper energy bills (43% in December 2020)
- 35% Good for local jobs and investment (41% in December 2020)
The most widely given reasons for opposing fracking was loss or destruction of the natural environment at 64% (up from 62% in December 2020).
Other key reasons for opposition were:
- 52% Risk of earthquakes (55% in December 2020)
- 51% Not a safe process (46% in December 2020)
- 50% Too much risk or uncertainty (48% in December 2020)
- 50% Risk of contamination of water supply (52% in December 2020)
According to the latest data, support for fracking was higher among men than women (28%, compared with 17%).
People who said they knew a lot or a little were more likely to support fracking than people who were aware but did not know what it was or had never heard of it (25% compared with 19%).
In the March 2021 survey, 85% of participants said they had some awareness of fracking. This was the lowest level in the past four surveys and down three percentage points on December 2020.
9% said they knew a lot, 48% said they knew a little and 15% said they had never heard of fracking.
The latest results show that men were more likely to report some awareness of fracking than women (89%, compared with 81%). People aged 65 and over were also more likely to be aware than people aged 16-24 (96%, compared to 78%),
The Wave 37 survey was collected using the Kantar online omnibus with a representative sample of 4,029 people aged 16 and over in the UK from 3-11 March 2021.