The percentage of Britons who support fracking for shale gas has sunk to below 50%, according to the latest YouGov poll conducted on behalf of Nottingham University.
Support for shale gas has not recovered since the 58% high it reached in July 2012. This had fallen to 54% by September last year and then 53.3% by January. The latest instalment of the poll saw support fall to 49.7%.
High profile protests at a Sussex test drilling site last summer, where Green party MP Caroline Lucas was arrested, were said to have played a significant role in the declining public backing for the controversial industry.
The government has also been accused by some green energy firms of overlooking the renewable alternatives. Ecotricity in April commissioned a YouGov poll asking people if they would rather live by a wind farm or a fracking site – and 62% chose wind farms.
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Fear of water contamination by living near to a fracking site is also said to have affected public opinion – a fear Conservative peer Lord Howell, an advocate for fracking, discussed in the US Journal of Energy Security.
He said “Every time ministers open their mouths to claim that fracking must start everywhere around Britain, and not just in carefully selected and remote (derelict) areas, they lose thousands of Tory votes.”
This supports a poll by Viewsbank in January, where support for fracking grew as drill sites got further away from where the respondent lived. Other polls raise climate change and carbon emissions as key concerns.
According to the latest YouGov poll, political allegiances are also a defining factor. Tory and UKIP voters tend to remain supportive of fracking, while Labour support has dropped from 52% to 41%.
Photo: UKBERRI_net via Flickr