Survey finds low public support for relaxing fracking rules

Researchers have found that very few members of the public want to see the UK’s rules and regulations around fracking relaxed.

The UK National Survey of Public Attitudes Towards Shale Gas found that only 8% of people in the UK think the country’s ‘traffic light’ system used to monitor fracking-related seismic activity is too strict.

Meanwhile, just 22% support the UK government increasing the seismic activity threshold at which fracking must stop from 0.5 magnitude to 1.5 magnitude, which experts have suggested could still be safe.

The independent survey, conducted by academics at five UK universities, also found that people generally have low trust in the energy companies involved in fracking, and want decisions over consent for fracking plans to be made as locally as possible.

Prof. Lorraine Whitmarsh from Cardiff University, one of the academics involved with the survey, said: ‘Our survey shows there is little support for fracking in the UK, and that trust in the industry is low.

‘However, many have not made up their mind and so there is a role for balanced and clear information to inform debate and decision-making about this technology.’

The national survey found that most people get their news about fracking from environmental organisations such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, with 48% using this source ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’.

Only 12% of people said they trusted businesses or groups in the shale gas industry to provide information about fracking, while respondents most trusted the British Geological Survey (61%) and university scientists (59%).

Meanwhile, only 11% of people said they wanted the government to decide whether to authorise shale gas extraction sites, while 41% wanted such decisions to be made by local councils.

Overall, the survey found that 32% of people support shale gas extraction as an energy option for the UK, while 56% are opposed and 12% said they don’t know.

UK-based offshore gas fields and onshore drilling without fracking were the most popular energy options, followed by European imports.

The results of the survey pose a problem for the UK’s shale gas industry which has called for the government to lower safety rules around fracking.

Cuadrilla recently announced it would restart fracking at its site in Preston New Road, Lancashire after tremors forced it to stop drilling several times last year.

The oil and gas company hopes to provide more data to support an expert review of the threshold, and has asked Lancashire County Council for more time to work in the area with permission set to expire this November.

The UK’s current government supports fracking but says it has no plans to relax its regulations, which are some of the most stringent in the world.

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden

Digital News Reporter

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