A recent poll conducted by YouGov for the University of Nottingham shows that public support for fracking in the UK has reached an all time low.
The University of Nottingham has been tracking opinions on hydraulic fracturing to produce shale gas since 2012, and following a small spike in 2013, support for the technology has been falling ever since.
In 2013, surveys showed that 58% of people supported fracking – while now just 37.3% do. Similar changes were seen in the number of people who were opposed to fracking – up from just below 20% in 2013 to 41% today. This marks the first time that more oppose fracking than support it since the surveys began.
The number of those who are undecided had remained broadly flat, fluctuating between around 17-23%, with a slight increase from last year to this.
Sarah O’Hara, professor of geography at the University of Nottingham, said: “The sharp downturn in support for the extraction and use of shale gas in the UK over the last 12 months is hugely significant, as is the fact that for the first time since we began running the survey in March 2012 more people are against shale gas extraction than in favour.”
The biggest causes for concern were environmental – both to do with emissions and water contamination, while the majority of those surveyed maintained that fracking would be, at the least, beneficial economically. Ultimately, more importance was given to the negative environmental effects than to the potential economic benefits.
YouGov’s report said: “Shale gas is also viewed as being the least acceptable energy source in the country’s 2025 energy mix from a range of renewable, fossil and nuclear fuels. These trends suggest that the sense of unease with the environmental implications of fracking is a very live issue for the British public.”
The survey results come soon after Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid announced that he would be overruling a decision made by Lancashire council and giving the go ahead to fracking operations at one site in the county.
The head of the UK Onshore Oil and Gas trading body, Ken Cronin, said that he hopes that once fracking operations do begin, he would be able to demonstrate what he sees a minimal environmental impact.
“We have long believed that once people get to see how little impact shale gas exploration has on the environment and communities then attitudes will swing strongly in favour.”