More than twice as many people oppose fracking than support it, according to a new government survey published today.
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
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 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).
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:
Wave and tidal 85%
Offshore wind 84%
Onshore wind 80%
Climate change concerns
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%).
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.