Latest research shows people feel more knowledgeable about shale gas and more supportive of local exploration

New research by BritainThinks reveals that local residents in Fylde, Blackpool and West Lancashire are feeling more knowledgeable about shale gas, and more supportive of continued exploration in their local area to understand the potential for shale gas in the UK.

The results follow last week’s announcement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change concerning the hydraulic fracturing of gas exploration wells in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla Resources commissioned BritainThinks to conduct 500 telephone interviews with people living in three council areas – Blackpool, Fylde and West Lancashire.

The survey was conducted using random digit dial (RDD) methodology. The purpose of the survey was to understand attitudes about shale gas in the context of recent announcements.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla Resources, said:

“Clearly the more people hear about and talk about shale gas in Lancashire the more informed they are about the potential advantages it can bring, as well as the environmental considerations that need to be managed.

“A well-informed community can have the constructive public discourse this industry needs to be successful in the UK.”

The survey repeated a number of questions from an earlier wave conducted in October 2012.

Compared to the October results, the most recent survey found that local people are:

  • More knowledgeable about natural gas from shale: 64% of local residents say they know a lot or a little about natural gas from shale, compared to 53% in October.
  • More supportive of continued exploration in their local area: Having answered questions on both the potential disadvantages and the potential benefits of fracking, 50% of respondents said they support continued exploration in the area. In October, the figure was 44%.
    • 50% of respondents said they “strongly support” or “support” continued exploration.
    • 25% said they “strongly oppose” or “oppose” continued exploration.
    • 26% said they “neither support nor oppose” or “don’t know”

The Government’s announcement about hydraulic fracturing was certainly heard in Lancashire. 47% of respondents said they had heard a news story relating to their area of Lancashire in the previous week. Of these, over 2/3 mentioned a story relating to shale gas or fracking in the local area.

Asked whether they had heard about DECC’s decision on fracturing, 74% of respondents said they were aware of the announcement.

37% of respondents said DECC’s decision made them feel more supportive of continued exploration in their area. However, 25% said DECC’s decision made them feel more opposed.

Offered further details of the regulatory requirements around monitoring and reporting, including the ‘traffic light’ system for detecting any low level of seismicity, respondents welcomed the Government’s stipulations – with 64% stating they made them feel much or a little more supportive of continued exploration in their area.

As in the October research, job creation is felt to be the most important of the potential benefits tested with 32% choosing it as single most important (compared with 25% in October) followed by cheaper energy (22% in December, vs 24% in October), and less reliance on gas from abroad (14% in December, up from 11% in October).

Asked to rate the single most important disadvantage, 30% of respondents selected risk of earth tremors (no change since October). Risk of water pollution was selected as most important by 26% (up from 22% in October), and risk of gas leaks was selected by 12% (compared to 8% in October). Risk of a negative impact on climate change was cited by 9% (up from 6% in October).

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