UK public beliefs about fracking and effects of knowledge on beliefs and support: A problem for shale gas policy

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This paper discusses a survey of public opinions on hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) for shale gas, conducted with a representative sample of 1745 British adults. Unusually, it examines beliefs about positive and negative statements about fracking as well as support/opposition. A majority of respondents correctly answered an initial question testing basic knowledge of shale gas extraction. More respondents supported fracking in Britain (36%) than opposed it (32%) but only 22% supported fracking locally, while 45% were opposed. Respondents were more united in negative beliefs than positive beliefs about fracking. More knowledgeable participants held more polarised views and were significantly more likely than others to agree with negative statements and to oppose fracking in their local area. More respondents disagreed than agreed that it is possible to compensate for fracking risks by payments to local communities. Policy implications include: increasing public knowledge about fracking will not necessarily lead to more positive beliefs and support regarding shale gas developments; promoting alleged economic benefits of shale gas is not enough to ensure support; engaging in genuinely inclusive participatory decision-making may be more likely to increase support than offering payments to communities; alternatively, developing more renewable energy capacity promises to be more popular than fracking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-730
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date21 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • hydraulic fracturing
  • fracking
  • shale gas
  • risk perceptions
  • public attitudes
  • local opposition


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