back to article British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

Shale gas may be threatening to cause an existential crisis for the way environmental politics is conducted in the UK. The latest survey from the University of Nottingham into how people view shale exploration shows something quite unusual. While awareness of the risks has greatly increased, the public's support for the …


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  1. Richard Wharram

    Just maybe

    The public are concerned about their gas prices and think this might be a better way of dealing with it than a price-freeze?

    (yes - i know it was actually drilling for oil)

    (yes - i know there's all kinds of research which says that it won't reduce prices)

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Just maybe

      Surely no-one important is at risk here since its all going to take place in some desolate region the MP's of London, who decided all this, in somewhere called "Newcastle" way oop near Scotland?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just maybe

      Daniel Hannan says he has had more people visiting his MP surgery sessions complaining about the Environmentalist protesters than complaining about the Fracking.

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: Just maybe

        Daniel Hannan is a politician... here, have a pinch of salt.

    3. Squander Two

      Re: Just maybe

      Yes, there's research which says fracking won't reduce prices, but it's misleading. Without fracking, prices are projected to double; with, they're projected to stay roughly stable over the same period. So no, that's not a reduction, but it's still, er... a reduction.

    4. Mips

      Re: Just maybe

      You might support anti-fracking if you could believe it was based on cogent argument not NIMBY.

  2. Big_Boomer

    Fracking Nukes

    My "fear" ran out over a decade ago. Now whenever someone starts spouting enviro-drivel at me I counter them with facts and figures and I can normally should louder than them anyway. I would far rather live next to a Nuke Power Station than a coal/oil/gas/wood/rubbish burning one. They are much safer and cleaner despite what the greenists say. In fact, about the only true -ve with Nuke power is the high level waste but even that is a damned sight easier to deal with than CO2. As for the Wind/Tide/Wave/Solar hippies,... great ideas but too expensive, too unreliable and those damned wind turbines are ****ing UGLY!

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Fracking Nukes

      Actually you should see the waste that coal plants leave behind. In the US we have had a few incidents were the coal ash leaked. nasty mess.

    2. BrownishMonstr

      Re: Fracking Nukes

      ...those damned wind turbines are ****ing UGLY!

      I'm starting to find them rather attractive.

      ** Bow Down To Our Future Masters (XKCD)**

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Fracking Nukes

        I loved the hover text on that one:

        "The moment their arms spun freely in our air, they were doomed -- for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane."

        Hell yeahs!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone at the Balcome camp had organised a free massage service. That won my vote. But then I discovered they were only looking for oil there anyway so the protest was a bit pointless really. The weather was nice though.

    1. anatak


      Someone at the Balcome camp had organised a free massage service.

      oil massage by any chance ?

  4. SonofRojBlake

    Is to too radical to suggest they might try sticking to the facts?

    1. peter_dtm

      but then they'd have no case

      and they's all have to get real jobs

      or learn how to do real science based science

      that is if they can ever get over their inability to do basic arithmatic

  5. Cheesenough

    Greens not the keen amateurs they once were

    The "Green" organisations have ceased to be the friendly, keen amateurs they once were (back in the 80's). Greenpeace now present a professional, business-like, tech-savvy, media-aware, political face to the world where once they were all kaftans, crochet tank tops and muesli. Although they are more effective lobbying force now, they look more like major oil companies they despise. I think the public just view them with the same level of suspicion as a consequence.

  6. Vordicae

    lesser of the evils ?

    so weighing up the options :

    Coal mines ? no one wants to go back there !

    Nuclear. no one wants to wait that long

    Fusion : no one will be alive by then !

    Green / renewables : uses more power to build and maintain than is produced

    Fracking : "May" cause your water taps to spit fire across the room !!

    YES !!.. me and my kids can't wait for that shizzle

    Everything in life has a level of risk, even breathing, or so I'm told, let's just TRY something rather than constantly talking around in circles and doing Nothing !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lesser of the evils ?

      "Nuclear. no one wants to wait that long"

      if we didn't have such stupid planning laws that allow every single political pressure group to delay things that aren't even in their area/locale but just fit within their mindset, that could be reduced at least a bit ...

      the other comment about people who object to a particular power source shouldn't benefit from it should be brought in, and also people who don't want to contribute to massive market-distorting subsidies should be allowed to say "no". Milliband's 'energy price freeze' gimmick didn't even acknowledge that a significant percentage of price increases have been because of policies his own party put in place.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lesser of the evils ?

      "Fracking : "May" cause your water taps to spit fire across the room !!"

      Because that kind of problem emerged in the USA... in places where they get water direct from artesian well, ours invariably comes via an open reservoir allowing any gas to escape before reaching your tap.

      But in any case the geology here is different, gas at greater depth and beneath less permeable rock so less chance of it getting into the water supply.

      UK coal mining on the other hand released radioactive gas radon as well as the gases Fracking will release - but with Fracking the aim is to capture that gas, mining made no attempt at capture but released it all to the atmosphere. Coal mining caused local earthquakes and subsidence (and still does) produced filthy waste water pumped from deep mines, affected deep aquifers, produced pollution from combustion products (and killed quite a few miners, shortened the life of thousands more).

      Parallels with Fukushima? we get 2 or 3 earthquakes a week in UK few are noticeable and our geology is such that San Andreas or Japan scale events won't happen here. The "good" thing about previous major nuclear incidents like Fukushima, Three Mile, Chrenobyl is the opportunity they offer to understand the failures and how those risks can be eliminated.

      New nuclear - yes it will be too late arriving Gas is a good stop gap. Nuclear risks? We were affected by Chernobyl, we would be affected if one of the many French nuclear plants went bang so not having plant here doesn't protect us and I'd rather rely on newer technologies and Brit engineering standards than french/russian standards and old plant.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joe Public

    "Clearly, individuals are now making sophisticated risk assessments of the benefits and dangers of fracking, and coming to their own conclusion"

    Whilst agreeing that the public have got bored of hippy doomsayers, I think it's fairer to say they're making an uneducated guess about the benefits and dangers, both of which have been over-played. So the potential resource is probably not great enough to materially alter our need for and dependence on gas imports, likewise the risk of water contamination is hugely hyped (being both unlikely, but also fairly easily treated).

    A sophisticated assessment leads to a resounding "meh".

  8. Blitheringeejit

    An irrelevant sideshow, albeit a dangerously distracting one

    Fracking is not the freakin' issue. We need to talk about carbon. That is all.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: An irrelevant sideshow, albeit a dangerously distracting one

      No, let's talk about *real* pollutants, not plant-food (assuming that by "carbon" you mean "carbon dioxide").

  9. returnmyjedi

    I am completely in favour of fracking, so long as it doesn't occur on or anywhere near my land. © Everyone

  10. Anonymous Blowhard

    Another Register anti-green article

    "Write your answer on a placard and tie it to a dog"

    Don't you know that dogs have a larger carbon footprint than a 4x4?!? I'm sending my comment on a placard tied to an old Land Rover.

  11. PurpleMoneky

    Fear not working? Use real facts!

    If fear of something is not working, perhaps the green people could use real facts about the dangers of things.

    This would mean that they would have to target things that are actually bad (e.g. plastics in oceans) instead of things that sound bad (e.g. clean and safe nuclear power) but need much more work to clean up and resolve and are therefore a harder sell.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Fear not working? Use real facts!

      This would mean that they would have to target things that are actually bad (e.g. plastics in oceans) instead of things that sound bad (e.g. clean and safe nuclear power) but need much more work to clean up and resolve and are therefore a harder sell."

      Oh gawd yes. Just heard on the local news about a new way of treating mine waste about to be tested. Apparently it's to reduce the tons of lead, cadmium and (some other metal) that runs off into Bassenthwaite from local mines every year in the Lake District National Park.

      This is the sort of pollution story I'd expect to have heard of before with protests and clean-up campaigns being launched. But is Greenpeace onto this? Of course not. It's not "sexy" enough for them and unlikely to get national or international headlines which in turn means unlikely to generate donations.

      That brings up another point of course. There seems to be a "critical mass" where a charity or campaigning group reaches a certain size such that they lose their ideals and focus in on doing the things most likely to raise funds rather than that which will do the most good.

      1. Squander Two

        "This is the sort of pollution story I'd expect to have heard of before"

        Damn straight. One of the things that pisses me off the most about the environmentalist movement is that their ignorance and luddism make me oppose environmentalism, which is actually a pretty good thing that I used to support. If they'd shut up about carbon for a minute, maybe they could remind people that petrol and diesel fumes are a Bad Thing for hundreds of other reasons -- sulphur, lead, asthma, smog, acid rain reducing the number of trees on mountainsides and thereby increasing the number of avalanches, etc -- and I reckon they'd get a lot more support if they did so. But they're so consistently such fucking unreasonable ignorant puritan morons that they make me want to buy a million barrels of oil and thrown them on a bonfire, just to piss them off.

        I know I'm not alone in this. A few years ago, in Northern Ireland, environmentalists did a pretty good job of working with the Protestant bonfire committees to get people to stop putting tyres on the July bonfires -- a cause I'd hope anyone who doesn't like breathing burning plastic fumes could get behind. They did so well, but then they screwed up: they gleefully and smugly announced how well they'd done on the news on the 11th. By the next morning, all the bonfires round my way were covered with tyres.

        Which is a good illustration of their main problem: they have not the remotest clue about human nature.

    2. buyone

      Re: Fear not working? Use real facts!


      While waiting in outpatients I heard a Green woman explain how she was going to run for election and would stop involvement in foreign wars and Trident. Obviously she had not heard of North Korea and long range missiles, so a Sara Palin of the left.

      I presumed this was for the council elections, so Winchester will not be fighting any wars or being attacked.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "While awareness of the risks has greatly increased" - I have heard nothing about real risks and almost every risk spoken about seems to be minimal or easy to work around. So either the information is not as widely available as you think, there are no major risks or the real risks are hidden still. At the moment I think its just a case of NIBY attitudes.

    1. I Am Spartacus

      NIMBY Issue - NOT!

      Look at the Balcomble protesters. They almost all came from other parts of the country. The typical rent-a-mob who would argue that black is what and hence all zebra crossings are anti-environment if Greenpeace told them to. The majority of the locals were stood at the side laughing at them and enjoying the newly found media circus. So, I don't think that this is a NIMBY issue.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: NIMBY Issue - NOT!

        Yeah, but all those itinerant protesters believe that all of Mother Gaia is their back yard.

  13. Neil 51

    More likey a judgemental attitude...

    Did you see the footage of the Balcombe protesters? They either looked like unwashed hippys, trustafarians or yummy-mummies. Basically the type of annoying twat that makes the average person dismiss them out of hand or want to deliberately be on the opposite side from them.

    Whereas with climate change the impression is that the people warning about it are scientists so it tends to get more notice and be taken more seriously. I reckon that's a lot of the reason behind people being more positively inclined towards fracking anyway.

    (note: I am not making any claims either way about climate change or the veracity of the science, merely how it appears in general. So quit your bitching.)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    as I read your article the headline should be clarified to read "British support for fracking EXPLORATION largely unmoved by knowledge of fracking (extraction) downsides"

    So here's a not unlikely line of thought:

    Sure: explore all you want, as long as the downsides of the /exploration/ are minimal - especially since that exploration takes place mostly elsewhere (ie. not in a town/city where most of the population live). Maybe you'll find something that gives us an useful option in the future.

    Now when it comes to fracking to /extract/ shale gas - Then I will evaluate the downsides of that process and balance them against gains. But exploration in someone else's back yard seems mostly harmless to me right now.

  15. EddieD

    Ultimate cop out here...

    If I was in my teens and 20s, I'd be opposed - I'd have 6 or 7 more decades on the planet, time enough for it go go to hell in a handbag.

    Now I'm in my fifties, I don't reckon we'll come to too much grief in the 2 or 3 decades I have left (at best, given my lifestyle), so let's go for it.

    I'll need that gas to warm me in my dotage. Those younger than me - learn to swim, and enjoy the environmental vibro-massages from time to time.

    1. HMB

      Re: Ultimate cop out here...


      1) Some sort of climate change does appear to be occurring, man made or not, even if we're just talking global weirding.

      2) If you efficiently burn natural gas instead of coal you release a lot less carbon.

      3) Some of the most effective solutions to the problem (e.g. progressive regreening of land appeared on TED, nuclear power, fire safe wooden skyscrapers) get little to no time in the public consciousness and some are even fought by radical environmentalists. The point here is that I wouldn't worry about your domestic energy consumption amidst deforestation and the construction industries emissions.

      4) The cost of reducing carbon emissions is so immense that people like Bjørn Lomborg have argued that spending the same money elsewhere may bring a much greater benefit to humanity. When you see this argument in full it's rather hard to argue against.

      5) One way or another, we'll be OK. It might take hard work and a lot of people who care about doing the right thing, but I'm sure we'll solve problems along the way.

      1. EddieD

        Re: Ultimate cop out here...

        You misunderstand me...

        I'm well aware of all that, although I think water is more of a problem in the short to medium term than carbon, I've been campaigning on environmental issues for 30+ years, its now that I just don't care.

    2. Martin Budden

      Re: Ultimate cop out here...

      EddieD - you don't have kids then? Or even any empathy whatsoever?

      1. EddieD

        Re: Ultimate cop out here...

        None to both

        1. Steve Foster

          Re: "None to both"

          And, of course, that is one of the most environmentally friendly acts a human being can achieve.

          1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: "None to both"

            What, suicide?

  16. nigglec
    Thumb Up

    Fear peddling doom mongers surely not?

    At last someone who describes the bulk of the environment lobby as they really are: a bunch of illogical nutters who try and use fear and hysteria to get their way. You can care about the environment and still be in favour of progress. If we want power/oil/gas for our little creature comforts we have to take some calculated risks, personally I’d prefer half a dozen nuclear power stations than 1,000s of windmills, but that may be just me.

    1. peter_dtm

      Re: Fear peddling doom mongers surely not?

      no - it's not just you !

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think everyone is sick and tired of the greenies.

    Full of unwashed unemployed protesters who somehow afford to live (must be the trust fund) who outright lie to get their way.

  18. Qarumba

    Fear and Piracy

    And here's looking forward to the Greenpeace pirates getting the full 15 years in the Gulag.

    1. HMB

      Re: Fear and Piracy

      Can I suggest a range of sentences instead of just 15 years? I believe my ideas will be more cost effective.

      1) People campaigning against fracking, persistently asserting falsehoods after having been warned (they would be given chance to back up their claims) would be forced to pay 3x more for their energy bills, this would subsidise lower bills for everyone else. This would persist for at least 5 years.

      2) People who are vehemently against a particular power source should put their money where their mouth was and be forced to source their electricity only from sources they approve of. When renewable power couldn't provide for these people (assuming at least some would be dead against gas, coal and nuclear), they would be cut off until renewables returned. It's harsh, but they'd be allowed to change their mind about other sources of power but would have to do so on a big public stage in a town centre. This would be filmed and put on youtube.

      3) People who buy a Prius for environmental reasons would be taken away for re-education about the global supply chain for battery technology and it's ecological impact.

    2. peter_dtm

      Re: Fear and Piracy

      I'd actually prefer the one proven way to combat piracy

      Hang from the yardarm


  19. Dan 55 Silver badge


    If the same story were run for July's data then I wouldn't beg to differ over the article, but the graph seems to show a turn around in opinion for September's data.

  20. Dan Paul

    "Green Fatigue"

    Over here on the other side of the pond, we have a similar issue and yes, strident, ludicrously disruptive protests seem to backfire on the participants cause. South Western NY has issues with fracking because almost all potable water comes from private wells. Those water wells are drawing from a level ABOVE where they want to drill and frack for natural gas. Horizontal fracking has already caused existing wells to mysteriously run dry. Funny how creating a great big drain field below the ground water level will do that.

    Unfortunately, the protestors in NYS are frantic and hysterical instead of reasoned and responsible.

    People don't pay attention to them because they complain about EVERYTHING and never have any solutions, only problems.

    This seems to be a trend as the right wing Tea Party conservatives suffer from exactly the same issues. What is most unfortunate is that no one can avoid paying attention to them as they have hogtied the government of the USA with their deliberately disagreeable attitudes.

  21. Pete 2 Silver badge

    What was the question?

    It would be handy to know what question gave rise to this result.

    Was it a non-specific equiry about the abstract principle of extracting oil and/or gas - or was it a direct question about whether individuals would be "happy" to have this carried out withing ½ a mile of their homes, or their childrens' school?

    I suspect the answers may vary considerably.

  22. JimmyPage Silver badge

    People are starting to realise

    You can have the lights on, or the polar bears.

    1. CaptainHook

      Re: People are starting to realise

      With their hollow transparent fibre optic like hairs, Polar Bears would make brilliant chanderliers and cast a warm even light everywhere.


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