The latest poll asks:
'From what you have seen or heard about the issue, do you think Britain should or should not start extracting shale gas?'
A total of 41% said Britain ‘Should not’, more than the 35% who said that the country ‘Should’.
Contrasting this with a poll conducted last March by YouGov, the numbers suggest a U-turn in public opinion. The polling from last year suggests that 42% said that Britain ‘Should’ frack, compared to the 33% opposed to the practice.
The swing is not massive, but does suggest that public opinion could be turning away from the practice of extracting shale gas.
According to the poll, the area most opposed to fracking is Scotland. A total of 54% of Scots said the UK should not frack, compared to the 28% who said it should. According to the Telegraph, Scottish ministers have announced an “indefinite ban” on the process in Scotland, whilst a public consultation is held. This follows the new Scottish Labour leader’s announcement that he, Jim Murphy, would ban the process when new powers come to Holyrood.
The poll also suggests supporters of the Conservatives are most likely to support fracking, with 56% saying the UK should start extracting shale gas. On the other hand, Labour supporters are most opposed to the process, with 49% saying the UK should not frack.
Overall, the poll suggests that public opinion could be shifting against fracking and that there are some significant regional divides. Furthermore, there is a divide along party lines over the issue.
Fracking could well become a major issue in the general election campaign, especially in Scotland, where things are heating up between Labour and the SNP.
YouGov asked 1550 GB adults between the 29th and 30th January for the Sunday Times. The full results can be found here.