Friday, 19 December 2014
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Public express concerns over fracking in their communities

A poll by IMechE has found that 47 per cent respondents would not be happy for fracking to take place within 10 miles of their home, compared to 14 per cent who approved. 

The findings follow the announcement on January 13, 2014 by the prime minister which said councils that back fracking will get to retain the business tax revenues once production at a well is underway.

According to the poll, the biggest concerns for respondents included: fears of damage to the local environment, the associated noise and disruption, fears over the chemicals used and health risks, as well as fears that drinking water might be contaminated.

Of those in favour of having a local fracking site, the most popular reasons given were energy security, more local jobs and skills development opportunities and the potential for it to cut consumer energy bills.

The poll also found that 30 per cent of people have a good understanding of what fracking is, compared with 40 per cent who said they had ‘some’ understanding and 30 per cent who said they had little or no understanding.

In a statement, Dr Tim Fox, head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: ‘These poll results suggest that simply offering money to local councils and communities is not enough to convince the public about the benefits of fracking for gas and that much more work needs to be done to engage with citizens on this potential activity. Building trust between government, industry and communities is essential if we wish to make use of this technique in shale rocks under the UK.

‘If communities are to make informed decisions on whether to allow fracking to take place in their locality they need to understand the issues and have an opportunity to discuss them sensibly.

‘It is therefore worrying that about two-thirds of those polled in this survey either don’t know what fracking is or indicated that they only have ‘some’ understanding of the activity. Clearly much more work needs to be done by industry and government to inform the public about the techniques involved and the various controls being put in place to protect the local environment and ensure the safety of the process.’

Of the people who said they were against having a fracking site near their home:

  • 80 per cent said they had concerns over the damage to the local environment
  • 63 per cent said they had concerns over truck movements and associated noise and disruption
  • 60 per cent cited concerns over drinking water being contaminated
  • 59 per cent said concerns about the health risks
  • 56 per cent said they had concerns over the chemicals used in the process
  • 30 per cent said the expense of resources for little return on gas
  • 25 per cent said they had concerns over the use of fossil fuels

 Of the people who said they would be in favour of having a fracking site near their home:

  • 58 per cent said because it would benefit the country’s energy security
  • 56 per cent said because it would lead to more local jobs and skills development
  • 47 per cent because it would benefit the UK’s economy
  • 43 per cent because it would reduce consumer energy bills
  • 40 per cent because it would mean more local infrastructure investment
  • 39 per cent said because of the benefit of the local community receiving £100,000 and 1 per cent of gas sales
  • 25 per cent said because it would lead to lower carbon emissions and be better for the environment

 The poll asked over 2,000 members of the public on their views of shale gas or fracking and was carried out by ICM on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


Readers' comments (2)

  • So they never asked if they would approve if the council tax and the gas bills would be reduced because of it? And they never actually showed a picture of a finished wellhead. which is about a cubic metre in size.

    The fact is the public would say no to anything if they are not told the benefits, and instead are just subjected to the media phrase 'controversial fracking' all the time.

    They'd also reliably say no to windmills, nuclear power plant and greenpeace's preferred local CHP units too. Tell them they'll need to start digging peat, chopping wood and paying 100% extra for wind power back-up then they'll change their tune. The 15% were clearly those who bothered to actually do some reading up before giving an opinion.

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  • A survey like this is pointless if the questions do not assess the real issues. They are well engineered public pacifiers. Not one of those questions served to gain a real insight.
    How about this :-

    How are the communities that have lived with fracking fairing now ?
    There are several examples in the states. That would satisfy me as good question in a survey.

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