Having looked at recent USA opinion polls in my last post, now lets look at the most recent UK data. A recent opinion survey of residents of Fylde, Blackpool and Lancashire has been commissioned. Report is here, Cuadrilla's take is here, and a BBC report on the survey is here. The headline figures: 44% favour continued extraction, 23% oppose further extraction, and 35% don't know. Remarkably similar to the US numbers actually.
Now, I have to stop for a minute to take the BBC to task about their reporting of the issue. You'd think the headline for this story would be something like: 'New survey shows majority of residents support fracking' (or something catchy-er than that, I guess I'll never get a job at the Sun). Instead, we get 'Cuadrilla fracking survey is propaganda: Protest group'. Or as it should read: 'Crazy person with clear and obvious bias makes completely unsubstantiated claims'.
It really is laughably sad. The protagonist in this case is Gayzer Tarjanyi, who has changed his name by deed-poll to Mr Frackman to oppose shale gas. Probably not the kind of person to be relied upon to provide impartial analysis. Does anyone really think the Mr Frackman gives 'balanced presentations' as he claims?
The sole piece of evidence advanced to suggest that the survey is 'propaganda' is that 90% of the people who come to his meetings oppose fracking. Well, I'm fairly sure, much like my own experiences of Bristol's anti-fracking groups, is that the reason they are there is not because they want to find out more, but because they already oppose fracking and are looking for more information to support their view. The 45% of people who support fracking are unlikely to come to Mr Frackman's meetings.
Finally, unless there is another petition hidden away somewhere, his latest petition appears to only have about 300 signatures. Bear in mind that the population of the area in question is several hundred thouand. Of course, there doesn't appear to be a geographical limit to the petition, so maybe some of the signatories have been bussed in from elsewhere, much like the protesters who came all the way from Brighton to chain themselves to Cuadrilla's rig last year (and much like how much of the US shale gas opposition is bussed in from New York city).
Much like the US experience, it would appear that in the local areas affected by shale gas extraction, public support is running at 2-to-1 in favour (with a significant proportion of 'don't knows'), while anti-fracking sentiment is stronger in other areas that are more affected by Josh Fox's movie-making than any direct experience of fracking.