Opposition to fracking continues to exceed support, according to the annual government survey of public attitudes published today. But support has increased since the last survey a year ago and opposition has fallen.
The survey, carried out during the Liz Truss government when the fracking moratorium was lifted, suggests that rising support for fracking has been among people aged 45 and over.
The latest findings put support for fracking at 25%, up from 17% at the same time 12 months ago.
Opposition was 36%, down from 45% in 2021.
Support for fracking generally increases with age. 16% of people aged 16-24 supported fracking, compared with 36% of people aged 65 and over.
But in the past year, support rose in three key age groups:
- Up from 12% to 25% among people aged 45-54
- Up from 15% to 27% among people aged 55-64
- Up from 23% to 36% among people aged 65+
According to the survey, men were both more likely to support fracking than women (30% compared with 21%) and were more likely to oppose it than women (38% compared with 34%).
Women were more likely to say they ‘neither supported nor opposed’ or to say they ‘didn’t know’ (46% compared to 32% of men).
People educated to degree level were more likely to oppose fracking (50%) compared to those with other qualifications (32%) and to those with no qualifications (22%).
People who were very concerned about climate change were more likely to oppose fracking (51% compared to 19% of those who were not concerned). Those very concerned about climate change were also less likely to support fracking than those who were not concerned (19% compared to 38%).
39% of those questioned said they neither supported nor opposed fracking or didn’t know. This was unchanged since 2021.
Reasons for support and opposition
Among people who supported fracking, the main reasons they gave may reflect the war in Ukraine and the impact on energy prices and security:
- Reduce dependence on other countries for UK energy supply (75%)
- Need to use all available resources of energy (64%)
Other reasons included:
- Reduced dependence on other fossil fuels (56%)
- Cheaper energy bills (48%)
- Positive impact on UK economy (41%)
- Good for local jobs and investment (38%)
People who opposed fracking were most concerned about:
- Loss or destruction of the natural environment (78%)
- Should focus on developing renewable energy sources (72%)
- Risk of contamination to water supply (62%)
- Risk of earthquakes (54%)
Other reasons, all mentioned by 43%, were :
- Not a safe process
- Negative impact on climate change or meeting carbon reduction targets
- Too much risk or uncertainty
- Should focus on developing other energy sources
- Chemicals used in the process
The autumn 2021 survey did not ask questions about the reasons for support or opposition. The 2022 findings on this question cannot be compared with earlier surveys which did ask this question because the methodology is different.
The 2022 survey found that 86% of people had at least some knowledge of fracking for shale gas. This was almost unchanged on autumn 2021 (87%).
The proportion of people who said they knew a lot or a fair amount rose to 41% in 2022, compared with 37% in 2021.
People who said they knew a little or hardly anything fell to 45% in 2022, compared with 49% in 2021.
The autumn 2022 survey also found:
- 88% of people said they supported renewable energy, with 56% strongly supporting.
- 89% supported solar energy, 84% supported wave and tidal energy, 85% offshore wind, 79% onshore wind, 72% biomass.
- 54% said they would be happy about a solar farm in their local area, compared with 43% for an onshore windfarm.
- 49% supported fusion energy and 3% opposed
The survey was carried out between 1 September and 3 October 2022, which followed a period of industry and political lobbying to lift the fracking moratorium in England. The fieldwork ended before Rishi Sunak replaced Liz Truss as prime minister and reinstated the moratorium on fracking in England. 4,161 individuals took part in the survey, 3,435 online and 726 on paper.