Fracking opposition more than double support – new government survey

More than twice as many people oppose fracking than support it, according to a new government survey published today.

Support and opposition for shale gas fracking in the UK.
Chart: BEIS Autumn 2021 public attitudes tracker

According to the findings, 45% of participants opposed fracking, compared with 17% who supported.

22% of participants strongly opposed fracking but only 4% strongly supported it.

30% said they neither supported nor opposed fracking and 9% said they didn’t know.

People educated to degree level were more likely to oppose fracking (56%) than people with other qualifications (43%) or with no qualifications (31%), the survey found.

The results are from an autumn survey carried out for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

It replaces long-running research on public attitudes to energy dating back to 2012. The new results cannot be compared with the previous dataset.

The most recent of the old-style surveys, carried out in March 2021, found that 36% opposed fracking, 23% supported it, 32% was undecided and 10% didn’t know.

The new survey has also dropped questions about why people opposed or supported fracking. Previous research showed that people said they opposed fracking mostly because of loss or destruction of the natural environment, risk of earthquakes, too much uncertainty, not a safe process or threat of water contamination. Past surveys found that people said they supported fracking mostly because of the need to use all energy sources, reduced dependence on other fossil fuels or other countries and a positive impact on the UK economy or climate change.

Awareness of fracking

Awareness of fracking. Chart: BEIS Autumn 2021 public attitudes tracker

The new survey found that 87% of people had some knowledge of fracking.

8% said they knew a lot about the operation, 30% said they knew a fair amount and 49% said they knew a little or hardly anything. 13% said they had never heard of fracking.

Men were more likely to say they were aware of fracking (92%, compared with 82% for women). 48% of men said they knew a fair amount, compared with 27% of women.

Awareness of fracking by age. Chart: BEIS Autumn 2021 public attitudes tracker

Awareness of fracking was higher among older people. 93% of people aged 55 or over said they knew something about fracking, compared with 77% aged 16-34.

People educated to degree level were more likely to say they were aware of fracking (91% compared with 78% with no qualifications). People with a degree were also more likely to say they knew a fair amount about fracking (49% compared with 25% with no qualification).


Support and opposition to renewables. Chart: BEIS Autumn 2021 public attitudes tracker

The survey also found that just 1% of people opposed renewable energy.

Support for wind, solar and biomass was 87%, including 54% who said they strongly supported. 11% said they neither supported nor opposed.

Men were more likely to support renewables (58%) than women (50%). Younger people were more supportive (62% of 16-24 year olds) than older people (50% of those aged 55+).

Support for renewable energy was higher among people educated to degree level (93%) than for people with other qualifications (86%) or no qualifications (78%).

Different renewable energy technologies attracted different levels of support:
Solar 90%
Wave and tidal 85%
Offshore wind 84%
Onshore wind 80%
Biomass 72%

Climate change concerns

Concern about climate change. Chart: BEIS Autumn 2021 public attitudes tracker

85% of people said they were concerned about climate change, including 44% who said they were very concerned.

14% said they were not concerned, including 3% who said they were not concerned at all.

People educated to degree level were more concerned about climate change (91%) than people with other qualifications (83%) or no qualifications (78%), the survey found.

Adults with no qualifications were twice as likely as people with a degree to say they were not concerned about climate change (19% compared with 9%).

Net zero

Awareness of net zero emissions target. Chart: BEIS Autumn 2021 public attitudes tracker

87% of people questioned said they had some awareness of the UK’s target of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

46% said they knew at least a fair amount, including 13% who said they knew a lot.

42% had heard of it but knew only a little or hardly anything. 13% had never heard of net zero.

Men were more likely to say they knew about net zero (91% compared with 84% of women). Awareness of the target was also higher among people aged 55 or over (91%) than people aged under 55 (85%). It was also higher among people educated to degree level (94%, compared with 87% of people with other qualifications and 76% with no qualifications).


The survey used address based online surveying, where an invitation to take part was sent to a random sample of addresses. Participants complete the survey online or on paper. In previous surveys, participants were interviewed face-to-face until the covid outbreak. More recent surveys used an online panel.

Today’s findings were based on a total sample size of 5,560. Surveys were completed between 15 September and 17 October 2021.

15 replies »

  1. Oh Martin, give it up. Having no opinion or no knowledge does not equal support. And research shows the more people get to know about fracking the more likely they are to oppose it.
    The fact is support is tiny compared to opposition.
    The government must get rid of the fracking industry once and for all – the sooner the better. Whether by planning or climate change policy, they have the means at their disposal. Hopefully the legal challenge may prompt them to do just that.
    Despite having very different views I wish you a very good Christmas and a happy New Year.

    • Sorry KatT, but the premise of your argument is incorrect.

      Most planning is determined by the majority not opposing rather than the numbers for and against. Sorry to rain on your parade but that is the reality. Activism is not the controlling factor. Do you not believe in democracy, and wish to remove a large chunk of people from the matter?

      And, no, you are wrong about the likely to oppose bit. If more people started to see financial benefits that meant something for them there is a whole lot of research that shows that would swing a high number to support. Most of the new product market research I have conducted included swathes of stuff on that very point. Fracking in UK has not got there yet, but if it did you may see a very different picture, as in parts of USA, where there are even references from schools who are very supportive.

      I am not convinced the current UK situation will be changed. But it is interesting even in such a situation the old false narrative still has to be maintained.

      And, three out of three. The government can not get rid. Governments are temporary. It is within the remit of any new government to make up their own minds. With 1720 whinging constantly about that very point, it shouldn’t take me to point that out. I suspect the next election in UK will feature very closely upon what has been got rid, and the risk of what could just be brought back!.1720 will be there campaigning to do just that.

      Do enjoy Christmas and all the best for 2022.

  2. Martin, you misunderstand, I’m talking about the government altering planning policy and legislation full stop. Nothing to do with activism. Government has this power, just as they altered it to favour fracking they can alter it to deter fracking. For example on climate change, to encourage more renewable energy, etc etc. A government with a statutory obligation to deliver net zero and more renewable energy can use planning to help deliver that. That is democracy.
    I disagree with your comments re the US as well, funny how fracking is so successful that Wall Street turned its back on the industry? Plus people in the U.K. do not own their mineral rights either. And how many landowners are suing fracking companies in the US because they never received anything like the income they were supposed to? And how many landowners in Canada have been left with hefty cleanup costs? Not the straightforward situation that you suggest.
    And I refuse to get into the statistics discussion with you again because everyone knows that it is quite simply nonsense.

    • AURORA – The Seed

      The Seed

      Just like the seed
      I don’t know where to go
      Through dirt and shadow I grow
      I’m reaching light through the struggle
      Just like the sea, I’m chasing the wonder
      I unravel myself, all in slow motion.

      You cannot eat money, oh no
      You cannot eat money oh no
      When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, You cannot eat money oh no
      You cannot eat money, oh no
      You cannot eat money oh no
      When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, You cannot eat money oh no

      Suffocate me, so my tears can be rain
      I will water the ground where I stand
      So that the flowers can grow back again

      cause just like the sea, everything want to live
      We are burning our fingers
      But we learn and forgive

      You cannot eat money, oh no
      You cannot eat money oh no
      When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, You cannot eat money oh no
      You cannot eat money, oh no
      You cannot eat money oh no
      When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, You cannot eat money oh no

      Feed me sunlight, feed me air
      Feed me truth and feed me prayers
      Feed me sunlight, feed me air
      Feed me truth and feed me prayers

      I see images of Killer whales

      You cannot eat money, oh no
      You cannot eat money oh no
      When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, You cannot eat money oh no
      You cannot eat money, oh no
      You cannot eat money oh no
      When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, You cannot eat money oh no

      • Great, Phil. A timely reminder of what we are really talking about – the struggle between the individual’s right to enrich him or herself, and the overriding human right to live, to breathe, to be fed and to survive. Not simple, but then little is.
        Pope Francis said recently in Athens, warning of the decline of democracy – “It is complex, whereas authoritarianism is peremptory and populism’s easy answers appear attractive.” (The Tablet, December 11th. Stop this shipwreck of civilisation)

        • Hi Iaith1720, I agree with you. The message from these people, who support and no doubt profit from this present suicidal insanity, is that only their technological if not technocratic pre prepared plans are the answer to the demise of the all the living systems on the entire planet.

          That only becomes revealed in the true light of reason, when the entire situation is realised, that it has been the blind profiteering and greed that has brought the entire human race and all life on planet Earth, to this sorry state in the first place.

          As Albert Einstein said:

          “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

          Its more than past the time that we have to think, and act, outside of the fossil fuel box that created the problem in the first place.

          And yes, there really are answers to those questions as well. Perhaps I will provide a long list of solutions in the Christmas break. I am sure that many more will do so too, in these troubled, and yet surprisingly transformational times.

          Have a good weekend.

  3. Well said, Kat. John Crace’s comments in the Guardian on Johnson’s arithmetic seem an appropriate analogy – “ We reached peak Madness of King Boris with his insistence he hadn’t relied on Labour votes on Tuesday night. When you don’t understand primary school addition and subtraction, it’s really time to go.”
    No point in engaging with the statistics offered, Kat. As you said – “quite simply nonsense”. The suggested interpretations of the statistics constitute yet another attempt to convey black as white. The question remains – is this an attempt to persuade themselves of the validity of their cause – frack, frack and frack again – or yet another egregious example of the jettisoning of integrity in order to persuade others? Or both? Either way, like Johnson, – not funny any more.

  4. Oh dear, KatT.

    Sorry, your statement was “the government must get rid of the fracking industry once and for all”.

    That is what you posted. I did not misunderstand anything. I can read. A government can not get rid of fracking once and for all. They have 5 years, at most, and then another lot come in, and surprise surprise, spend much of the first chunk of their 5 years changing what the previous lot did. That is reality. They can even change planning and laws. Some, even say before they are in government, they will do one thing, and then once in government do the opposite. Remember student fees?

    Yes, there are people in USA who are disgruntled. But, there are also many who are not, and some who are quite pleased, like those who drop out of education but still end up with $60k/year washing dishes in the Permian, so yes, better not to get into statistics. And, in that respect “everyone knows” is statistically incorrect too! Unless you have surveyed everyone, which you have not because I know I haven’t been.

    As for Wall Street, well goodness me, fracking must be so profitable in USA that Wall Street is hardly needed-the statistics are there every week for US drill counts, KatT. I am not sure that you are doing the anti cause any favours by heading down that road. Some try and play the not profitable, ponzi card. Equally, Wall Street were not that supportive of Tesla for a very long time!

    I wouldn’t get too hung up in the mineral rights bit, either. You may find the Community Fund versus the community penalty (£400k at Wressle) is down that road. Not a good road to travel.

    As for “income they were supposed to”, that seems to be an issue with renewable energy too. Certainly is for solar panels in UK. I can think of two neighbours who have found exactly that, and know there are many more in that situation, with some not even able to sell their houses. Income they were supposed to is not too good a look for those who remember Cash for Ash either.

    Finally, please do remember that the survey data supplied is always without any benefit analysis by those surveyed. That would make a big difference in attitude. It always does. (That should allow plenty of opportunity for speculation, but attitude is usually more influenced by facts and reality!)

  5. Martin, I did not write from a point of activism, so you have misunderstood. Kwasi Kwarteng said in the HC that fracking was over, not something the government wanted/supported and those opposed to fracking such as Lee Rowley had won the argument. And it is this that I refer to. Getting rid of fracking once and for all via the use of planning etc would remove any ambiguity without having to issue an outright ban. This would avoid any legal shenanigans but achieve clarity and prevent fracking full stop.
    Yes I am opposed to fracking but from the change in stance and the statements from the government I don’t think the government wants fracking either.
    You may wish to respond again but I won’t be commenting further as it would be pointless. I am sure that others reading this forum can appreciate and understand what I have written, irrespective of their own opinion of fracking.

  6. Thank you for making my point, KatT. KK said on behalf of THIS government. Planning would not remove fracking ONCE AND FOR ALL.

    If you really believe that decisions by one government have any control over what a subsequent government do, then sorry but you live in a strange fantasy world. Of course, you may believe this government may be in power for all time-but please do not tell Robin or 1720!

    And, please don’t be fooled by the Guardian! The point Boris was making was around whether the size of the “rebellion” would have been as large if they had not been aware they had a free pass from Labour. The Tories knew that, Labour knew it when they gave the free pass, and most who don’t get sucked in by the Guardian, knew it. That free pass, and the rebellion may not look such an issue to those millions in hospitality if hospitalisation from Omicron is below prediction. Not that I agree with them, just saying that events with this virus have been quite different to predictions before.

  7. Perhaps at some point in the survey they will start asking people’s opinion about high energy costs, the demand from supply companies for a £20 billion loan scheme, fracked LNG from the US coming to Europe’s aid and the possible loss of energy intensive industries from the UK. I won’t hold my breath.

    • Perhaps they can also ask how on earth anyone thinks UK fracking is going to reduce domestic / industrial gas prices.

      Even Francis Egan admitted it won’t / can’t 😉

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