Mind the gap!
Today’s saw the publication of the results of the BEIS Wave 27 quarterly opinion tracker.
Some of you will remember that after a consultation in which respondents told the BEIS that the questions relating to shale gas were very important, the department immediately removed the questions from the next poll (wave 26) and told us they would only be asked annually. This resulted in a certain amount of “discussion” the end result of which is that the questions were immediately re-introduced for Wave 27.
The field work for the survey was carried out from 19-30 September so the impact on public opinion of the 36 earthquakes (so far) at Preston New Road would not have had any effect on these results. We shall have to wait for Wave 28 in 3 months time to see the influence of those events.
The most significant findings in the recent polling are that the gap between opposition and support for shale gas has increased whilst support amongst those backing fracking for the industry’s favourite narratives is collapsing.
As can be seen from the graphic below the trend towards increasing opposition and reduced support is obvious.
Meanwhile this polling clearly shows that acceptance of the industry’s claims for shale gas benefits is vanishing even amongst their supporters. Support for the idea amongst those backing fracking that shale gas might lead to a reduction in dependence on other countries for UK’s energy supply has collapsed from 36% in March to just 23% in September. Similar falls can be seen for the claims that shale gas will reduce dependence on other fossil fuels (25% compared to a previous 31% ), with the same story for the claim that fracking may result in cheaper energy bills (17% compared to a previous 26% ).
It would appear that people are at last seeing through the industry’s spin, and once the impact of the recent earthquakes and the IPCC’s warnings regarding climate change filter through we would expect the gap between opposition and support to widen still further.