Survey: Bowland Basin Residents 'Support' Shale Gas Exploration

Survey: Bowland Basin Residents 'Support' Shale Gas Exploration

The majority of the public who live within the Bowland Basin license area in northwest England support shale gas exploration, with the numbers of supporters continuing to rise, according to a survey commissioned by UK shale gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources.

The survey, published Thursday and conducted by independent research firm BritainThinks, was conducted recently among residents in Blackpool, Fylde and West Lancashire following similar surveys in October and December 2012.

Cuadrilla said the main findings were that:

  • 57 percent of respondents now either strongly support or support shale gas exploration, compared with 44 percent in October 2012 and 50 percent in December 2012
  • The number of people who oppose or strong oppose exploration has fallen from 25 percent in December 2012 to 20 percent
  • Job creation was considered to be the most-important potential benefit of exploration according to 47 percent of respondents
  • Protection of water is viewed as the most-important issue to address, with 30 percent of respondents identifying this as their key concern

Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, as well as home-grown anti-shale gas groups like Frack Off oppose Cuadrilla's plans in the Bowland shale. But, so far, the most high-profile protest against the company was at its Balcombe site in West Sussex, where it recently drilled a conventional oil well.

At the start of October Cuadrilla announced it had taken action to adjust its plans for exploration in Lancashire, saying it had quit potential exploration site over concerns operations there would disrupt local bird life. The company is seeking another suitable site to drill for shale gas in the area.

In a statement about the BritainThinks survey, Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan commented:

"This research by BritainThinks shows that for many people in Lancashire the potential benefits of shale gas exploration become crystal clear when they consider the facts and the related job creation and economic opportunities.

"It's good to see a steady improvement in support, but it's clear that we need to focus more on the issues that matter most so we can really get to the heart of both what excites and worries people about our proposals as we work to unlock Lancashire's energy potential.

"One issue that concerns people and is reflected in the findings of this research is around water – an area that we will manage through the highest standards of regulation, well design and industry best practice. There's not been a single proven case of fracturing fluid causing contamination of aquifers and scientists are clear that shale gas can be extracted safely in the UK without any danger to the water supply."

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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