Support for controversial fracking has fallen to a new low, according to an official Government survey.
Only a fifth of people (21%) back extracting shale gas for use in the UK, the lowest level of support since the quarterly public attitudes survey by the Department of Energy and Climate Change first quizzed people on the issue in December 2013.
Overall 28% of people opposed fracking, with 46% expressing no opinion either way, the survey of 2,118 UK households found.
But the level of opposition was higher among people who said they knew about fracking, with 54% of those who know a lot about the process opposing it, compared to 32% backing it.
The only group who were more supportive than against the process were those who said they knew nothing about it, according to the poll which was conducted in late June as the debate raged over whether to let fracking go ahead at two sites in Lancashire.
Support for nuclear power has also fallen to the lowest levels seen in the survey, which began in 2012, with just a third (33%) of people backing the use of reactors to generate electricity in the UK, while around a quarter (24%) oppose the energy source.
But support for renewables remains very high, with three quarters of those quizzed backing their use, though the proportion of people expressing strong support for renewables was at its lowest since the survey began, at just under a quarter (24%).
Concerns over the cost of energy bills have also fallen to new lows, with just a quarter (25%) very or fairly worried about paying for their energy bills, down from 35% at the same time last year.
And despite efforts to get people to switch supplier to get a better deal on their bills, the number of people who said they would be changing energy company has remained steady, with just 6% having firm plans to do so in the next year and the majority (57%) saying they would not switch.
Greenpeace UK head of energy Daisy Sands said: “The Government’s own survey shows ministers’ priorities on energy are at the polar opposite of what the British public wants.
“Popular technologies like wind and solar are having their support axed, whilst the more unpopular than ever fracking industry keeps getting preferential treatment.
“It’s becoming quite clear that people are seeing through the smokescreen of propaganda and spin created by the shale lobby and their minister friends.”
She suggested energy companies seeking to frack for shale gas around the UK would hit the same “wall of opposition” that saw the two proposed sites in Lancashire turned down.