Most Brits (52%) are neither for, nor against, onshore drilling for shale gas

More than (52%) of people are agnostic – ie neither for nor against – onshore drilling for oil and gas in the UK – according to an independent and scientifically robust opinion poll.

When asked whether they support or oppose extracting shale gas, half of the public (48%) neither supported nor opposed it, with a further 4% saying they did not know whether they supported or opposed.

Of those who offered an opinion, more people were opposed to fracking (36%) than supported it (13%).

These conclusions are published in the latest quarterly public opinion attitude survey by the UK government’s Department for Energy and business (BEIS).

The results are based on 2,105 face-to-face in-home interviews conducted with a representative sample of UK adults aged 16+. Fieldwork was conducted between 27 September 2017 and 1 October 2017 on the Kantar TNS Omnibus, which uses a random location quota sampling method.

The questionnaire was designed by BEIS and Kantar Public drawing on a number of questions from previous surveys. Questions were refined through cognitive testing.

The representativeness of the data was controlled through sample design, fieldwork quotas and post-fieldwork weighting. Data were weighted for the following characteristics: sex, age, social grade, region and tenure.

These findings are significantly at odds with the ‘99% of people’ who responded to a Scot-Govt public consultation about onshore shale gas exploration.

But the Scot-Govt statistics are not designed to be scientific or statistically representative and many of the responses to its consultation – which it nevertheless used to justify its ban on onshore oil and gas drilling – were in effect ‘round-robin’ letters where different respondees sent in pre-formatted comments drafted by professional lobbyists and pressure groups.

Meanwhile, the BEIS survey also shows that support for a range of renewable energy developments remains high:

 84% of respondents said they supported solar energy

79% supported both off-shore wind and wave and tidal

74% supported on-short wind, and

69% supported biomass.

Support for the use of nuclear energy has remained fairly stable: 33% supported nuclear energy compared with 25% who were opposed.

Four in ten (40%) selected the neutral or ‘agnostic’ option at this question, to indicate that they neither support nor oppose the use of nuclear energy.

3 Nov 2017

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