The study, which was carried out by ICM Research, revealed that 44% of those surveyed believed fracking should take place in the UK. 30% were against and 26% were undecided.
When asked they would support drilling in their area, supporter numbers fell by 4%, those against rose by 10% and 20% remained unsure.
‘The more people learn about fracking, the more they have objections’
Leila Deen, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace, told The Guardian: “The government has done a terrible job of selling fracking to the British public – even with the broad support of the mainstream press it hasn’t been able to get a public mandate. Contrast this with recent polling showing 68% support for onshore wind and that 67% of people would prefer a turbine to a fracking site near their home.”
“What we’ve seen in the south is that the more people learn about fracking, the more they have objections,” she added. “You only need look at what happened with the Balcombe parish council, which approved drilling before understanding the implications. Now they know what it entails, they say they’re gutted to have given it the green light. The public’s response is liable to be the same.”
Balcombe site may be unusable
The poll results were released at the same time as energy company Cuadrilla admitted that the Balcombe site in West Sussex may never become a site of fossil fuel production.
Cuadrilla has been carrying out exploratory drilling in Balcombe but has faced numerous delays due to a large number of anti-fracking protesters. The company has stated that it will consider carrying out drilling in other areas which are further from people’s homes.
A controversial but potentially lucrative process
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process in which a mix of water, sand and chemicals is pumped into shale rock at high pressure to release the fossil fuels contained within. Fracking is widely employed in the US, where it has led to a fall in fuel prices but has also been alleged to contaminate water supplies and cause tremors.
Those in favour of fracking in the UK believe tightly regulated operations would alleviate related environmental concerns and ensure fuel security for the country. Ministers have also suggested offering cash incentives to communities which allow fracking to take place near their homes.