Aug. 3 (UPI) -- With shale drilling about ready to go for the first time ever in the country, British opponents said public sentiment was moving against the practice.
Cuadrilla Resources said the drilling rig used to tap wells at a shale basin in Lancashire arrived at its destination in late July. The industry is in its infancy in the country, though the British government estimates there may be enough natural gas locked in shale to offset gas imports on pace to increase from 45 percent of demand in 2011 to 76 percent by 2030.
Polling data from the British government found only about 13 percent of those responding to its surveys said they knew "a lot" about hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Support and opposition was split evenly among respondents.
Of those who supported it, 42 percent said the country should use all resources at its disposal, an increase from the 35 percent expressing that opinion in a previous survey. Of those who opposed it, 68 percent said they were concerned about damage to the environment, a 12 percent increase from a previous survey.
Rose Dickinson, a campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said her read of the polling data was that the fledgling shale industry was fighting an "unwinnable battle for support."
The British Geological Survey started environmental surveys in Lancashire ahead of Cuadrilla's efforts in order to set a baseline for water and air quality, as well as seismic activity. Cuadrilla has permission to drill four wells, but will proceed with only two this year.
"Of those who were neutral or did not know whether they support or oppose fracking, the majority put this down to not knowing enough about it," the British survey read.