Despite the Conservative government’s aims to speed up the extraction of shale gas in the UK, a recently published YouGov poll shows that public opinion on shale gas has significantly shifted in the past year. The new survey, commissioned by the Sunday Times, shows that support for hydraulic fracturing has dropped from 44% to 32% in the last 18 months, whilst opposition rose from 29% to 43%.
The survey provided a short description of shale gas and the extraction method along with some of the perceived risks before going on to ask ‘From what you have seen or heard about the issue, do you think Britain should or should not start extracting shale gas?’
Of the 1567 people polled, 32% said Britain should allow hydraulic fracturing to take place, 43% said it should not be allowed and 25% didn’t know. When broken down by age ranges those over 60 were more supportive of shale with 41% in favour and 39% against. The greatest percentage believing shale extraction should not be allowed came from the 40-59 age group with 46% against.
The survey then went on to ask respondents if they would support or oppose shale activity in their local area, only 27% said they would support fracking in an area near them with 49% saying they would oppose it.
Community incentives were then added to the question, with the poll asking how people would feel if the local council received sums of £100,000, £1,000,000 and £10,000,000 to fund new community facilities.
When £100,000 was offered, the percentage of those who would support fracking in their area rose to 30% with those who would oppose dropping to 47%. At £1,000,000 support rose to 32% and opposition fell to 44% and the final sum of £10,000,000 showed 36% would support fracking and 40% would still oppose it.
Those under 40 were the most swayed by community incentives, initially only 22% would support local shale activity this rose to roughly 38% at the maximum amount offered to the council.
As the survey shows, while the Conservative party and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd support the use of hydraulic fracturing, the public does not currently share their enthusiasm.
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