Fracking surveys show support growing
Three consecutive recent surveys have shown support for fracking has grown since the Government’s Public Attitude Tracker in March – most notably after the Prime Minister offered direct cash payments to households in shale gas areas.
The results of Wave 18 of the quarterly DECC Public Attitude Tracker were published on 29th July 2016, with data collected between 29 June 2016 and 3 July 2016 using face-to-face in-home interviews with a representative sample of 2,114 households in the UK.
It found total support for fracking at 21%, up from 19% at Wave 17 in March.
A later survey, carried out by ComRes for the sustainability and CSR consultancy, Remsol, found support at 26%. ComRes interviewed 2,028 GB adults online between 8th and 10th July 2016. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+.
More recently still, a YouGov poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth and conducted on 11th and 12th of August, found 33% of people supporting shale gas extraction. This came just days after the Prime Minister announced plans to allow householders living near shale sites to access direct financial benefits, and the question made specific reference to this.
Examined together like this, these various polls appear to show support for shale gas has grown by over 50% since March 2016 – most notably after the Prime Minister offered direct cash payments to households in shale gas areas.
Responding to the YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth, chief executive of the trade body UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) Ken Cronin said: “It is well established that with infrastructure developments, particularly with energy projects such as onshore wind farms, that the local community should share in the benefits of the project.
“Until people can see the reality of either the project or the benefit , it is hard for them to assess. However it is noticeable that in areas where there is potential for fracking, there is more favourability for this proposal than in areas where fracking is less likely, such as London.”
As well as the Prime Minister’s intervention in the Shale Wealth Fund consultation, it’s possible that the surge in support for shale has also been driven by the Brexit vote in June’s EU referendum, with UK residents now more attuned to the need for and benefits of producing home-grown gas rather than continuing to rely on imports from European neighbours. A survey for UKOOG in January this year found 56% of people were ‘personally concerned that the UK’s energy supply is not secure enough to keep the lights on over coming winters’ – a concern that Brexit may well have amplified.