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Fracking support is ebbing away, Government figures show

Public opinion on fracking has dropped significantly with just 17 per cent of people backing the process of extracting shale gas, according to new figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The study also showed that a third of people actively opposed fracking and just under half (48 per cent) had no opinion.

It is the lowest level of support for fracking since the public attitudes tracker started asking about shale gas, and comes amid increased awareness of the process, with about four-fifths of those quizzed claiming to know something about it.

But despite the lack of public support, the government has continued its push to develop a shale industry in the UK, which it claims could boost jobs, the economy and energy security.

Earlier this month ministers allowed a fracking site in Lancashire to go ahead, overturning a decision by the county council. 

Opponents of fracking most commonly cited damage to the natural environment, while those in favour thought it was important to use energy sources, it was good for local jobs and investment and reduced dependency on fossil fuels.

Support for renewables remained high, with 79 per cent backing green technologies, and just 4 per cent opposing.

The survey of 2,080 UK households also found that 71 per cent of people backed onshore wind, the highest level since the tracker began, while 75 per cent were in favour of offshore wind, and 82 per cent backed solar.

The poll, conducted shortly after the government finally gave the go-ahead to a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, also saw support for nuclear energy rapidly falling to 33 per cent, from 36 per cent three months earlier and 38 per cent in the spring.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive of Good Energy, said: "Renewable energy still remains the UK's favourite form of energy - it's local, it's sustainable and it's pioneering.

"Government should listen to public opinion, champion renewable energy and throw its weight behind tackling climate change."

Industry body RenewableUK's chief executive Hugh McNeal said: "It's great to see public support for onshore wind has reached its highest ever level, at an overwhelming 71 per cent.

"Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new power generation available in Britain, so it makes sense to use it to keep people's electricity bills as low as possible."

In September, Labour’s shadow energy and climate change secretary Barry Gardiner said that his party would ban fracking in the UK if it wins the next election. 

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