Public support for fracking has dropped sharply

The Department of Energy and Climate Change last week published their latest Public Attitudes Tracking survey. One of its key findings is a substantial dip in support for hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking.

The government survey shows that support for renewable energy is at a record high. Opposition to renewable technologies is at 4%, with only 2% saying they were strongly opposed to renewables. This forms a strong contrast to public opinion on fracking, which is shown to be more unpopular than ever. Support for fracking is at just 19% amongst the 2,105 people interviewed. This is down ten per cent on 2014. 31% now say they are against the technology.

What is fracking?

Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from underground (shale) rock. High-pressure jets pump water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break the rock, allowing gas to escape.

Is fracking bad for the environment?

Fracking has always been a controversial method of energy extraction. Also known as hydraulic fracturing, it involves drilling into the earth and injecting a high-pressure water mixture to recover gas and oil from shale rock. Proponents say it could prevent a UK energy crisis, create jobs and reduce energy bills. Environmentalists argue it could pollute groundwater with potentially carcinogenic chemicals and that we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The technology has also been criticised for the huge amounts of water it uses, and has been scientifically linked with causing earth tremors. There are currently several fracking sites in the pipeline- sites in Yorkshire and Lancashire are currently being considered by their respective county councils. Both proposals have been heavily opposed by locals.

Does the UK Government support fracking?

The Government has consistently shown support for fracking and the DECC makes it evident which side it is on. A Decc spokesman said: “This is exactly why we want people to have access to all the facts so they can see past the myths and understand the benefits which include greater energy security, more jobs and growth.” An information booklet published by the department is strikingly one-sided in the ‘facts’ it provides; it makes no mention of the potentially damaging outcomes of shale gas extraction.The survey revealed that half of the public neither support or oppose fracking, with many stating the reason for this as lack of knowledge on the issue. This shows that the Government is not winning people over by failing to educate them. Clearer information and more open discussion is needed to allow people to make an informed choice – for or against.

With an energy crisis nearing – and the solution as unsure as ever – it is clear that the British public believe the future lies with renewable energy. Will these findings convince the government to re-invest in renewable energy, for which they have repeatedly cut subsidies in recent months?

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