Despite the fracking fibs, 50% of all voters are ‘neutral’ about onshore shale gas exploration

BEIS graphic on onshore shale gas exploration well - with Big Ben shown (to scale) bottom left
BEIS graphic on onshore shale gas exploration well – with Big Ben shown (to scale) bottom left

Around half of all people surveyed in the latest energy opinion poll by the British government are ‘neutral’ about onshore shale gas exploration.

The Dept. for Business, Energy & Industry (BEIS) carries out ongoing public attitude surveys on energy issues.

In the latest survey, when asked whether they support or oppose extracting shale gas, half of the public neither supported nor opposed it (49% neither supported nor opposed it and 2% did not know).

The most common reasons for supporting fracking are:

  • The need to use all available energy sources (35%)
  • Reducing dependence on other countries for UK’s energy supply (31%)
  • Fracking being good for local jobs and investment (30%)
  • Reducing dependency on other fossil fuels (28%), and that
  • It may result in cheaper energy bills (27%).

Of those who were neutral or did not know whether they support or oppose fracking, the majority put this down to not knowing enough about it (74%).

These statistically robust findings* provide a strong evidential counter-balance to ‘fact-free’ spurious claims widely disseminated by anti-fracking pressure groups and which were inaccurately reported in consumer media before the Advertising Standards Authority compelled Friends of the Earth to retract its mis-leading claims.

These results are based on 2,180 face-to-face in-home interviews conducted with a representative sample of UK adults aged 16 and over.* This is more than twice the number of responses believed to have been submitted to the Scot-Govt’s contaminated consultation on shale gas exploration.

See also:

Fibbing by Friends of Earth with false fracking claims will make Scot-Govt’s final public consultation on shale gas worthless


UK onshore oil and gas industry welcomes withdrawal of false fracking claims by Friends of the Earth:

However, despite many people being aware of fracking, only a small proportion claimed to have detailed knowledge.In the latest BEIS survey, on 10% of people claimed to know a lot about fracking, whilst 46% said they knew a little, and 19% were aware of it but didn’t really know what it was.

Awareness of fracking/onshore shale gas exploration  was higher for those in social grade AB (90%), aged over 55 (87%), with incomes over £35,000 (88%), and home owners (85%). 

Of those (a minority) who did offer an opinion, more people were opposed (30%) to fracking than supported it (19%).

Other key findings from the opinion survey include:


Battery powered vehicles (BPVs)

A question was asked about ownership and perceptions of electric vehicles. The vast majority of responses suggested a lack of interest in owning an electric vehicle, as most people had either not thought about buying one (50%), or did not drive or need a car (23%).

One person in five (21%) stated that they had thought about buying an electric vehicle, whilst only 1% already owned one.


Energy suppliers and switching

When asked about their history of switching gas or electricity supplier, 17% had switched in the last year.

A further three in ten (31%) had switched longer than a year ago, a decrease from 39% from this time last year. There was also an increase in the number who stated they have never switched at all, from 42% last year to 48%.


Renewable energy

Support for renewable energy has been consistently high during the tracker at around 75- 80%. This pattern has continued in the latest survey, with 79% expressing support for the use of renewables. Opposition to renewables was very low at 4%, with only 1% strongly opposed.

The survey also asked people’s opinion on three statements about renewable energy developments.

  • Nearly eight in 10 agreed that these should provide direct benefits to the communities in which they are located (77%)
  • Seven in ten (70%) agreed that renewable industries and developments provide economic benefits to the UK, and
  • Six in 10 said they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their own area (58%).


Technical notes on the BEIS public attitudes tracker survey

These results are based on 2,180 face-to-face in-home interviews conducted with a representative sample of UK adults aged 16 and over. Fieldwork was conducted between 29 March 2017 and 2 April 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. Results included here are based on weighted data.

 The full data can be found here

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