Majority of Britons think we should prioritise gas produced in the UK
More than half of the UK population want to prioritise gas produced in the UK, including shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas
An alliance of leading trade associations – supporting 2 million jobs across the country – has joined forces to call for a much needed national dialogue about gas uses and supply in Britain. This at a time when the prestigious Institution of Mechanical Engineers reports that the UK will face an unprecedented electricity supply gap in a decade’s time with a decline of up to 55 per cent as coal-fired power stations are shut and nuclear power stations are decommissioned.
The alliance’s call follows research completed by ComRes late last year which found that more than half of the UK population – 55% – want to prioritise gas produced in the UK, including shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas. This finding is unsurprising considering the same research found over 56% of the UK population have concerns about power supplies over the forthcoming winter and that 70% of the population feel heating or cooking (currently almost exclusively gas based in the UK) are the most important energy uses in their daily life. As it stands, despite the continuing importance of North Sea gas production, Britain has become ever more reliant on imported gas and by 2030 will be dependent for up to 75% of its needs outside of the UK.
The research found three in five people “feel well-informed” about the causes of climate change (61%), a fact which could help explain why four out of five report actively taking measures to reduce the amount of energy they are using at home (81%). At the same time, more than half of British adults – 56% – agree that reducing the cost of energy should be prioritised over environmental concerns, given worries about high energy prices.
As well as highlighting a substantial level of support amongst the UK population for using gas produced in the UK over imported energy (55% agree that we should prioritise using natural gas produced in the UK, including shale gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas), the research also found that two thirds (66%) agree that natural gas has a role to play in helping the UK become a low carbon economy.
Nick Sturgeon, Energy Director at the Chemical Industries Association, said: “This research highlights that the UK population is incredibly dependent on gas and is increasingly conscious of environment issues. The UK population relates the need for gas in their daily lives to the need for the UK to deliver its own supply from both onshore and offshore. As an industry we need to do more to ensure we explain the value of gas to the economy and the environment. Gas heats 84% of our homes, produces 30% of our electricity and is an essential ingredient in everyday items such as mobile phones and toothbrushes.”
Katharine Peacock, Managing Director of ComRes, said: “Cutting energy bills is a clear priority for British adults. Four in five say that they are actively taking measures to reduce the amount of energy they use, and more than half say that reducing the cost of energy should be prioritised over environmental concerns.
“Nevertheless, majorities of Britons are concerned about energy security and would like to see moves to a lower carbon economy. So while important, the debate around Britain’s energy makeup will need to address issues beyond cost alone.
“There is limited public awareness about the extent of the UK’s reliance on gas imports. However, just more than half of Britons agree that we should prioritise using gas produced in the UK, including shale gas, produced by hydraulic fracturing, over energy imported from overseas.”