Yes to fracking, but not in my back yard

William JordanUS Elections Editor
August 05, 2013, 4:29 PM GMT+0

People in Britain tend to be supportive of fracking – but only a quarter think it would be a good thing if it began in their own local town or area

Former minister Nick Herbert has said that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is a threat to the countryside second only to unwanted housing developments. “Fear of the unknown” is at the heart of concerns in his Arundel and South Downs constituency said the Conservative MP.

Fracking is a method for extracting natural gas trapped under shale rock, which has led to a natural gas boom in the United States which some argue could be replicated in the United Kingdom. Other people have argued that fracking is a dangerous technique that risks contaminating ground water and causing minor earthquakes. New YouGov research for the Sunday Times shows that while people are more likely to support fracking in Britain than to oppose it, support is reversed when it comes to fracking in Britons’ local areas.

YouGov has found Britons tend to think the country should start to extract shale gas using fracking technology, by 41% to 33%, although a quarter (26%) of the population still don’t know where they stand on the issue, suggesting its impacts may indeed be "unknown" to many.

41% also think fracking would be safe, compared to 36% who think it would be unsafe.

Opposition to fracking at home

When balancing the potential for new jobs and investment with the possibility of pollution and damage to the local environment, however, voters are more likely to think fracking in their own local town or area would be a bad thing (43%) than to think it would be a good thing (25%). Although again, a significant proportion (18%) don’t know how they feel.

When thinking in more detail about the impacts of fracking, about seven in ten (68%) say shale gas extraction through fracking would ultimately be good for the British economy, but nearly half (47%) think it would be damaging for the environment, including one in five (20%) who think it would be “very damaging”.

Mr Herbert's comments came days after energy minister Michael Fallon was reported to have said that some media commentators will walk back their public support for the drilling technique when fracking begins in the southeast of England and they can see “whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive”. Mr Fallon, the MP for Sevenoaks in Kent, later said the remark had been “misconstrued” and reiterated government statements that no fracking would be allowed in the Weald unless it is “safe and poses no risk to the environment.”

See the full poll results

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