Fracking backed by majority in the UK, gas group says

Barton Moss Results from test drilling for shale gas at Barton Moss, Salford are being analysed

Extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - enjoys widespread support, according to a trade body representing the UK oil and gas industry.

A survey carried out by the research group Populus for UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) found 57% were in favour.

The poll of 4,000 people found that 16% were opposed, and 27% where undecided about the controversial process.

But Greenpeace said the survey was flawed because it was not independent.

The survey found that nearly three fifths (59%) of people would be willing to see natural gas from shale production go ahead as long as it forms part of a mix that includes renewable energy sources, with only 12% disagreeing.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said: "More than four out of five of us heat our homes with gas, and Britain's shale resource gives us the opportunity to become less dependent on foreign energy supplies, create tens of thousands of jobs and support our manufacturing industries.

"Shale gas and renewables are complementary, and our survey confirms that the public would like to see a balanced mix that includes both sources of energy," Mr Cronin said.

'Smoke and mirrors'

But a Greenpeace spokesman said: "Surely it's no coincidence that the only survey out there showing this level of public support for fracking has been commissioned by the industry lobby. All independent polls show less than half of Britain backs shale drilling.

"This is just more smoke and mirrors to hide the obvious fact that fracking remains a highly controversial industry, far less popular than clean and safe alternatives like wind and solar."

Earlier this year, a similar-sized poll carried out by the University of Nottingham found that just under half of those questioned supported fracking, while 31% were opposed.

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