Poll shows 63% not opposed to fracking
- Published on Monday, 19 May 2014 08:09
- Written by Daniel Mason
The British public remains deeply divided over whether fracking should be allowed to go ahead in the UK despite the government's attempts to promote it as a way of improving energy security and cutting prices, new research suggests.
A survey by Opinium for Govtoday has revealed that 37% of adults are opposed to the exploitation of shale gas reserves while only 25% are in favour. However, as many as 28% describe themselves as neither in favour nor opposed to the controversial drilling technique, and another 10% 'don't know'.
The results, published on the day of Govtoday's Fracking conference in London, show that scepticism among the public is growing - with a previous poll in August 2013 putting support for fracking higher at 32% and opposition at the lower figure of 33%.
The polling also shows the effect of nimbyism, with support for fracking falling to just 19% when respondents were asked whether they would be happy to see it in their local area. In that scenario, opposition rises to 45%. Even so, more than a quarter, 26%, continue to be neither in favour nor opposed.
Those who support fracking most often cite reducing the UK's dependency on foreign energy sources, and the creation of jobs and economic growth, as the main reasons for their position, the research shows. Among opponents, damage to the local environment, as well as noise and disruption for residents, are the main concerns.
David Cameron has previously said his government would go "all out for shale" and offered councils the opportunity to keep 100% of the business rates from fracking sites in a bid to shore up support. A portion of the profits from drilling is also set to go straight back into local communities.
The prime minister has claimed fracking could create 74,000 jobs and bring in £3bn of investment. But the attempt to win over the public does not appear to be working.
According to the survey, 44% of people admit to knowing only 'a little' about fracking, with 17% knowing nothing about it and 9% having not heard of it at all. Just 24% of Brits say they know a 'reasonable amount' about the process and 6% say they are well informed.
Support for fracking is highest on the right of politics - with 44% of Conservative voters and 38% of Ukip supporters in favour. Shale exploitation has the backing of only 19% of Labour voters and 24% of Liberal Democrats.
Meanwhile, asked what would change their mind about fracking, 47% of those currently opposed cited proof that the drilling would not cause harm to groundwater and the environment.
Some 39% said they might change their view if it was shown fracking did not cause any earthquakes, and 32% said they would alter their view if it meant lower energy bills. More than a quarter, 28%, said they would be more likely to support fracking if nearby residents received a share of the profits.