Nearly twice as many local people support shale gas exploration in Lancashire than oppose it, according to a new survey.
Cuadrilla Resources commissioned BritainThinks to conduct 1,000 telephone interviews with people living in three council areas – Blackpool, Fylde and West Lancashire. The purpose of the survey was to understand peoples’ attitudes about shale gas, together with their beliefs about the potential benefits and risks associated with the gas’s extraction.
Following prompted and unprompted questions about the benefits and risks of natural gas from shale, the survey found that 44 per cent of respondents support continued local exploration to understand the potential of shale gas, with 23 per cent opposed. The remaining 33 per cent are undecided. Of those people who expressed an opinion, 65 per cent back shale gas exploration, while 35 per cent oppose it.
Respondents were most likely to identify cheaper energy (23 per cent) and job creation (11 per cent) as the potential benefits to come from shale gas. The risk of earth tremors (32 per cent) and water pollution (11 per cent) were highlighted as the main potential disadvantages. Around one-third of people were unable to identify any potential benefits or disadvantages associated with shale gas.
Overall, the survey found that knowledge levels about shale gas are low, with 48 per cent of people saying they know “very little” or “nothing” about it. A further 38 per cent believed they know “a little” about shale gas, with only 15 per cent knowing “a lot”.
“There are claims made that Lancastrians are against shale exploration and development, but this research provides a more accurate perspective,” said Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla Resources. “We commissioned this survey to increase our understanding of local sentiments about shale gas. It’s clear that, while many people support our plans, others either haven’t made up their minds about or want more information.
“The only way we can earn community trust is through openly discussing all perspectives on shale gas, based on the facts. We will continue our efforts at this kind of engagement.”
“This research shows that, for local people, the debate around natural gas from shale is just beginning” said Ben Shimshon, Director at BritainThinks. “At the moment, knowledge levels are low, but a majority of local residents are interested and open to hearing more.”
Cuadrilla Resources is still in the early stages of exploration and it hopes to receive the go-ahead in the near future to fracture and flow-test two wells in 2013.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here: http://britainthinks.com/news/2012/nov/public-attitudes-natural-gas-shale-blackpool-fylde-and-west-lancashire