Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Hutton Survey on Consent to Frack 87% withold consent

Between 10th May and 12th July 2018 members of the Frack Free North Somerset group contacted 181 residents of Hutton parish in North Somerset to discover their opinions on fracking.

Hutton was chosen because Infinity Energy, who hold the licenses to frack the coast of Somerset from Weston super Mare to Watchet, have said that they intend to frack “somewhere to the south of Weston super Mare”, and Hutton is a parish south of WSM.

We knocked on doors and introduced ourselves as from Frack Free North Somerset, and that we were conducting a survey to find out whether they give their consent to fracking in their parish. We handed over two leaflets that we had printed, which gave information about fracking, with web links to more extensive information, including information provided by Government which is strongly supportive of fracking. We returned to the house after two or three weeks and obtained signatures from people who did not give their consent to fracking in their parish. We also recorded all those who did not know and those who supported the idea of fracking.

Of the 181 people who responded,
157 signed a sheet to declare “I do not give my consent to fracking in my parish”
17   were undecided/did not know
7     were in favour of fracking

In percentage terms, rounded to the nearest whole number, the result is
87% do not give their consent to fracking
9% Don’t Knows
4%   Supported fracking
Two people questioned were against fracking, but did not feel ready to put their names down on paper.
We intend to respect the confidentiality of signatories.
These results differ from national surveys of fracking, although these national surveys also show clear opposition to fracking.
YouGov  ( showed 43% opposed and 32% in favour, though opposition grew to 49% opposed with 29% in favour if the question was posed as “near you”. Opposition is on a rising trend.
A survey for the Department for Energy and Climate Change published in April 2018 ( showed 47% neutral, 32% opposed and 16% in favour of fracking.
The difference in our survey may be due to several factors, including the fact that it was conducted by volunteers (several people thanked us sincerely for our efforts) and the fact that our leaflets set out all the known dangers of fracking, including the dangers to human health, an aspect that is not mentioned in the Government surveys.
In fact our information left out one big challenge to fracking posed by the present very dry summer, since fracking has a high demand for water.  The news that Government delayed an adverse report on fracking for 3 years until it had given a permit to a fracking company ( also emerged after the survey was substantially completed.
The 2011 census counted 2,582 people in Hutton, so we surveyed 5.38% of the population.
This sample size compares well with national opinion polls, who typically survey 1000 people out of an electorate of some 34 million, a fraction of 0.29%

There is no “social licence” for any company to frack in this parish of Hutton, which is in the area targeted by the holders of the fracking licence. The ratio of 87% in opposition compared to 4 % opposed is very convincing, and is a good reason, when set alongside the impacts of fracking on road traffic, public and environmental health, for Infinity Energy to give up on their intention to frack in our beautiful Somerset countryside.

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