The public remain divided and undecided on fracking,
with a small but growing minority strongly opposed to shale gas
new government statistics show.
The poll comes just a day after an industry survey suggested a
majority of the public supported fracking. That finding was widely
covered in the media, including the BBC,
Daily Mail, but is contradicted by this polling.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change today released the
results of its
latest poll tracking public opinion on energy and climate
issues. It shows the public split over fracking, with the same
proportion – 24 per cent – saying they support and oppose shale gas
The DECC poll is a tracker study, meaning it is repeated every
few months. Support for shale gas appears to have fallen slightly
since the poll was last conducted in March, when 29 per cent of
respondents said they supported shale gas extraction.
There’s been a small increase in the number of people saying
they “strongly oppose” shale gas extraction at 10 per cent, up from
8 per cent six months ago.
Perhaps more significantly, more than half of people surveyed
didn’t have a strong opinion. 47 per cent said they “neither
support nor oppose” extracting shale gas – and despite a lot of
noise about fracking in the media, that proportion is largely
unchanged on nine months ago. 26 per cent of people said they had
“never heard of [fracking]”.
The poll has been released just a day after industry group UK
Onshore Oil and Gas released its own poll, suggesting 57 per cent
of the public backed fracking.
That poll was criticised by one
polling expert for containing leading questions, potentially
leading to skewed responses.
The advantage of the DECC polling is that it asks the same
questions each time the poll is condicted, which is likely to lead
to a more accurate tracking of public opinion.
DECC’s poll also showed continued robust support for renewable
energy, although approval levels fell compared with previous
DECC suggests this is down to “seasonal decline”. DECC’s data
shows public support for renewables tends to fall in the summer, it
Overall support for renewables remains robust, however. 79 per
cent of respondents said they supported the use of renewable energy
sources to generate the UK’s electricity, fuel and heat, a similar
proportion to March this year (80 per cent) and December 2013 (77
Solar remained the most popular renewable energy
source, with 82 per cent of people saying they supported the use of
the technology to generate electricity.
Updated – Changed the word ‘indifferent’ to ‘undecided’, as
we don’t know why people did’t express an opinion.