A survey commissioned by a trade body for the UK oil and gas industry has found that more than half of Britons support shale gas production. However, the findings contradict those of other polls looking at the public’s opinion of fracking.
The Populus survey, commissioned by UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) found that 57% of respondents support the production of natural gas from shale in the UK, whilst 16% oppose it.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become a controversial and much debated method of extracting shale gas.
Those supporting the process argue that shale can act as a transition fuel towards a low-carbon economy and can help reduce emissions in the immediate term. In contrast, those opposing it link the method to environmental degradation, increased risk of earthquakes, water contamination and methane leaks.
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The support for fracking seen in the UKOOG poll is linked to energy security. Some 67% agreed that Britain needs to produce its own energy so that it isn’t reliant on other countries for gas. This issue has recently hit the headlines because of tensions rising between Russia and Europe over the Ukraine crisis.
Support for fracking is boosted when renewables are added to the mix. Some 59% would be willing to see natural gas from shale production go ahead so long as it forms part of an energy strategy that includes renewable energy sources, suggesting that the public view shale as a transition fuel.
Commenting on the findings, Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said, “Shale gas and renewables are complementary, and our survey confirms that the public would like to see a balanced mix that includes both sources of energy.
“Whilst these results are positive, our industry needs to continue to do all it can to listen to and engage with the views of local communities.”
However, in contrast to UKOOG’s findings, a recent poll conducted on behalf of Nottingham University suggests that support for fracking is declining, following a series of high profile protests.
The May instalment of the poll saw support for shale gas slip below halfway, with 49.7% backing the energy source, compared to the 58% high it reached in July 2012.
A separate survey, published in April, also indicates that the majority of the population favour renewables over fracking. The poll found that when questioned 62% of participants would opt to live near a wind farm, whilst 19% said near a fracking site, if they had to choose.
The Energy Debate for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s month long celebration of sustainability Sustainable September will bring thought leaders together to look at the issues around fracking and renewables on September 16.
Four speakers will debate either for or against the motion, “Shale gas and nuclear power will address carbon emissions in the immediate term, far more effectively than unproven renewables”. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.
Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr
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