The government’s attempts to sell fracking to the UK public appear to be in vain as new research shows less than 1 in 4 people support the controversial extraction technique.
The latest results are part of a long-running survey on British attitudes to shale gas.
Undertaken by YouGov and commissioned by the University of Nottingham it has revealed that high-profile protests to fracking – such as those seen in Balcombe in West Sussex last August – led to an increase in opposition to shale gas projects.
It is the second time since the summer protests that there has been a decrease in the amount of public support for fracking.
Support has dropped from around 40% of the British public last summer to under 25% now.
Members of the UK government have urged the public to get on board with fracking.
In his latest attempt to sell shale gas, Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos saying the UK needed to “embrace the opportunities of shale gas” even though he understood “the concerns some people have.”
Meanwhile climate change minister Greg Barker said that “true greens” should support fracking.
The UK government has faced criticism for pursuing shale gas at all costs. Reports earlier this week showed that it was looking at changes to trespassing laws to allow companies to drill under homes, without the owners’ permission.
This follows claims that it has been working with the shale industry to try and quell opposition.
The government has also attempted to bribe local councils and communities into accepting shale gas drilling in their region by offering sweeteners to those that open themselves up to the controversial process.
But these attempts have not damped the concerns over water contamination, methane leakage and a risk of earthquakes linked to fracking, which have put the controversial industry at the heart of fierce debate in the UK.
While the government has made clear that fracking companies – such as Cuadrilla and IGas – should provide sweetners to local communities affected, a new study from Cambridge University says they should also be paying for the damage wreaked on the environment.
According to the researchers, companies should be paying around £6 billion a year in taxes by the middle of the 2020s in compensation.
The study’s calculations take into account the contribution of climate change from both the carbon dioxide emissions when the gas is burned and the fugitive emissions of underground methane leaked into the atmosphere during extraction.
The researchers say such a tax would allow companies to know from the start what costs they would be expected to bear from fracking. On many occasions they say “prospects that initially look promising will turn out not to be worth pursuing once these taxes are factored into the equation.”