Survey highlights challenges for fracking, support for renewables

Commenting on the latest Government survey on public attitudes on energy and climate change, Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said that strong public support for renewables, at its highest level since 2012, including onshore wind, is welcome news for the Government. 


Shale supporters hope to emulate the success of the US fracking industry. Image: Daniel Foster, creative commons licence

“As the Government appears to be softening its position on onshore wind, news that just 8% of Brits oppose the technology should be a very welcome finding. It is no longer a secret that onshore wind is the cheapest way of generating energy in the UK, a fact which is becoming ever more relevant as the Government continues to look for ways to keep energy bills for homes and businesses as low as possible,” he said.

“Overall, with a record-low 3% of the population opposing the use of renewable energy, the long-term vision of a prosperous and low-carbon society outlined in the Clean Growth Strategy clearly has the backing of the British public. Building on the success of recent offshore wind auctions, now is the time for the UK to double down on low-carbon power, cementing our position as a global leader and allowing a homegrown industry to continue to flourish.

“Providing local communities support onshore wind in their area, there remain few sensible reasons to continue to prevent a resurgence in the industry. The UK already has the expertise needed to get new wind farms up and running quickly, providing quality jobs outside of the south east and allowing Brits to keep more pounds in their pockets through lower energy bills."

Richard Black, ECIU Director, said that is was notable to support for fracking has dropped to its lowest level.

“It’s notable that support for fracking has dropped to its lowest level since this question was introduced. This comes just as firms are gearing up for more test drilling, six years after earth tremors in Lancashire stalled progress. However, the challenges facing the nascent UK shale industry haven’t really changed,” he said.

“Opposition from local people and environmental groups remains steadfast, and shale gas may be much more difficult to extract here than it is in countries like the US. And even if the geology allows significant gas extraction, the economic viability of shale is also a serious consideration, as imported gas is cheap right now.

“Lastly, there is the serious question of how developing a new fossil fuel industry in Britain is compatible with our climate change targets, a question which is all too frequently absent from the debate.”