Latest tracker shows that #fracking ambivalence is firmly entrenched

The latest quarterly Public Attitudes Tracker results have been published today by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

 

Opponents of shale gas extraction will tell you the story is all about falling support (it dropped to its lowest level of 12% in the last quarter) and growing opposition (now at 37%). 

But the real story is that 48% of people again said they have no strong opinion either way. They're neutral. This has consistently been the case since questions about fracking were first asked by BEIS (and its predecessor).

That neutral opinion isn't budging. The changes are occurring at the margins; opposition is nibbling away at support but while the majority of Brits remain unmoved by arguments on both sides, that's not a win. Both sides of this debate are essentially stuck in a rut.

Stuck_in_a_rut.jpg

We have a working theory on why this is the case: most people accept that we use lots of gas and, according to other polls over the years, a majority of them would prefer that a UK source of gas, including from shale, be prioritised over imports. 

That acceptance and pragmatism translates into a neutral stance. It's not that they're not being swayed by pro-fracking arguments, because they don't need to be - they already accept it - crucially, it's that they're not being persuaded by the scaremongering stories put out by fracking's organised opposition. 

And as more sources of genuine facts come on stream, allowing the public to reach more informed conclusions, that rejection of the anti-fracking narrative is only going to harden - especially when people see for themselves that, in practice, it's not as bad as they've been led to believe. In Lancashire, for instance, opponents made much ado about night-time noise during 24/7 drilling operations, but as we've shown with audio recordings at various points around the site near the closest homes, you can't hear a thing - which is borne out by the fact that there have only been three complaints to the council, all of which were investigated and found to be caused by something else. If the anti-fracking campaigners got this so wrong, what other risks have they overstated just to try and secure the public's support?

Don't be fooled. Fracking's detractors will spin today's tracker results to suit their agenda but what can't speak can't lie - the majority are neutral and staying staunchly so. 

While you're here...

Can we ask you to take a look at and sign our petition to allow occasional overnight deliveries to the Cuadrilla site in Lancashire?


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  • Jim Georges
    BF, Very much in agreement that many of the “neutral” responders will switch to more favorable responses once fracking occurs and the sky fails to fall. But I think that paying attention to these trackers is a waste of time regardless. In the US, where fracking has revitalized the economy, cleaned the air, developed energy security, and created millions of jobs (direct and indirect), 45% of the country still says they oppose fracking.

    The issue is that some people will never, ever endorse industrial operations such as these. They will always be “against” electric transmission line installation, sewage treatment plants, chemical manufacturing operations, 12 lane interstate highways, oil and gas operations, etc. They also rely on each and every one of these operations every single day and they would be very upset if you took away any of the products/services that they provide. Relying on polls means that you think people will give rational responses. Relying on polls also means that you think we should allow long-term energy policy decisions to rest on the frequently vacillating whims of public opinion – which is largely informed and influenced by fearmongering from less-than-informed anti-fracking activists. None of it makes much sense to me.