UK

Only 10% think more fossil fuels will cut bills and boost energy security – poll

The analysis suggests that only one in 10 Britons believe more oil, gas and coal is the best way to reduce energy bills (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The analysis suggests that only one in 10 Britons believe more oil, gas and coal is the best way to reduce energy bills (Andrew Milligan/PA) The analysis suggests that only one in 10 Britons believe more oil, gas and coal is the best way to reduce energy bills (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Only about 10% of Britons think that more oil and gas production will reduce bills and increase energy security, a poll suggests.

The YouGov research, published on Wednesday, surveyed almost 2,500 UK adults after regulators gave consent for Rosebank, the largest untapped oil reserve in British waters, to be developed.

The analysis suggests that only one in 10 Britons believe more oil, gas and coal is the best way to reduce energy bills.

Meanwhile, just 8% think increasing fossil fuel production is the best way to increase energy security.

Rosebank oilfield locator
Rosebank oilfield locator (PA Graphics)

It comes after Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Claire Coutinho said the Government will “continue to back the UK’s oil and gas industry to underpin our energy security” following the Rosebank announcement.

But any fuel extracted from Rosebank will mostly belong to Equinor, whose largest shareholder is the Norwegian state, and the majority of the fuel is expected to be sold internationally.

This has prompted many researchers, campaigners and opposition MPs to question whether adding a significant amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is worth any economic and security gains.

Campaign group Global Witness, which commissioned the poll, said the results show that the UK public overwhelmingly prefer new renewables to fossil fuels.

When asked which energy source would best serve the UK’s energy security, 56% of the public chose more renewables, followed by 20% who chose more nuclear – compared with the 8% who backed fossil fuels.

Similarly, 53% chose renewables when it came to the best way to reduce energy bills, followed by 18% who chose more nuclear.

Elsewhere, the poll showed that 42% would prefer to wind down North Sea oil and gas production, compared with 33% preferring to exploit all economically viable supplies.

The support for extraction was much weaker among younger generations, with 17% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 21% of 24 to 49-year-olds backing the option.

Among those aged 50-64, support for extraction increases to 39% and increases again up to 57% in the 65-plus age group.

Dominic Kavakeb, co-director of campaigns at Global Witness, said: “The public are clear, even if the Government is not: new oilfields like Rosebank won’t make the UK safer, and they won’t lower energy bills.

“By a large margin, the UK public want to see more renewables, not more oil and gas.

“The Government claims that Rosebank will strengthen our energy security, but the vast majority will be exported on to global markets.

“Approving Rosebank is an act of economic vandalism that only serves the fossil fuel industry and is woefully out of touch with public opinion.”

Ms Coutinho said: “We are investing in our world-leading renewable energy but, as the independent Climate Change Committee recognise, we will need oil and gas as part of that mix on the path to net zero and so it makes sense to use our own supplies from North Sea fields such as Rosebank.

“The jobs and billions of pounds this is worth to our economy will enable us to have greater energy independence, making us more secure against tyrants like (Russian president Vladimir) Putin.

“We will continue to back the UK’s oil and gas industry to underpin our energy security, grow our economy and help us deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner energy.”