Public lecture on ‘shale fail’

Patrick Devine-Wright gave a talk on the topic of public perceptions of shale gas fracking and the idea of ‘shale fail’, hosted by the South West branch of the Royal Geographical Society on February 24th 2021. You can watch and listen to the talk, including a subsequent question and answer session, here.

Review of Public Perceptions of Shale Gas in the UK (2012-2020)

We have produced a review of Public Perceptions of Shale Gas fracking in the UK across the period from 2012-2020. This review takes a close look at how public perceptions have changed over time, mainly drawing on data from surveys conducted with nationally representative samples of UK adults. We offer five key findings:

  1. Public awareness of shale gas increased between 2012-2014 but has remained stable since then.
  2. Public support for shale gas has decreased over time while public opposition has generally increased.
  3. A substantial minority are consistently undecided about whether they support or oppose shale gas.
  4. While research shows an unclear relationship between levels of awareness of shale gas and levels of support, the consensus amongst researchers is that providing additional information is only likely to sway the opinions of those who are currently undecided.
  5. The research literature suggests an increasingly polarised societal context about shale gas that comprises three distinct groups: strong objectors, strong supporters and those without a firm opinion.

You can access the Review here.

National Survey Wave 1 Findings (April 2019)

Results for our Wave 1 Public Attitude Survey are now out. The data were collected in April 2019 with a sample of 2,777 UK adults from across the UK. Headline findings include the following:

  • Overall, 56% of participants opposed shale gas extraction, 32% supported it and 12% indicated ‘don’t know’.
  • There were no significant differences in shale gas support between different regions or countries of the UK.
  • Males were more supportive than females; Conservative voters more supportive than Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP or Green voters.
  • 41% of participants thought that planning decisions should be taken at the local level, in comparison to 24% at the national level (i.e. England, Wales, Scotland, N. Ireland) and 11% at the UK level. 24% responded ‘don’t know’ to this question.
  • Seismic activity from shale gas extraction is regulated using a Traffic Light System. Only 8% of participants thought that it was currently too stringent. 37% thought it was ‘far too loosely’ or ‘somewhat loosely’ regulated. 24% regarded it as ‘about right’ and 31% responded ‘don’t know’.
  • Following presentation of information about the Treasury’s Sovereign Wealth Fund  (designed to provide financial benefits to shale gas communities), 15% of participants became more supportive, 65% did not change their opinion and 20% became less supportive of shale gas extraction.

You can access the summary report here.