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Talking ‘Fracking’: A Consultation on Unconventional Oil and Gas - Analysis of Responses

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2. About the respondents and responses

2.1 This chapter presents information about the respondents and types of responses received by the consultation. It also describes the way in which responses were received, and provides a brief description of the various campaigns which encouraged and helped to facilitate the submission of responses from their members / supporters.

How responses were received

2.2 Responses to this consultation were received in a wide range of formats.

Online submission

2.3 Respondents could submit an online response by completing the response form hosted on the Scottish Government's consultation hub. A link to the online form was also provided on the Scottish Government's dedicated Talking Fracking website.

Submission by email or post

2.4 Respondents could submit their responses directly to the Scottish Government's Onshore Oil and Gas Team at Victoria Quay by email or post.[3]

Submission through organised campaigns

2.5 A number of campaign groups co-ordinated responses among their members and supporters. These 'campaign responses' were based on a standard text provided by the campaign organiser and, in most cases, they were submitted to the Scottish Government through a form on the campaign organiser's website. Completion of the online form resulted in a respondent's comments being sent by email to the Scottish Government. Respondents could simply add their name and contact details to the standard response, and then send their message. Such responses are referred to in this report as 'standard campaign responses'. Alternatively, respondents could edit the standard campaign response or add their own comments. These personalised responses, submitted via a campaign, are referred to in this report as 'non-standard campaign responses'.

2.6 There were a few variations on this arrangement, with campaign organisers giving their supporters different options for submitting their responses. For example, three groups provided their supporters with pre-printed postcards or prepared letters. (For two of the groups, this was in addition to an online campaign as described above.) Respondents sent their signed postcards back to the campaign organisers (sometimes with additional comments added), and the campaign organisers presented them to the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy. Prepared letters were signed and sent directly to the Scottish Government. One campaign organiser drafted a model response, with answers to each of the ten consultation questions, and supporters could simply copy this into the online response form on the Scottish Government's consultation hub. It was also possible to edit the model response before submitting it. Unlike other campaign organisers, one of the campaigns did not provide a standard campaign text to their members / supporters. Instead they provided brief background information and three prompt questions to assist people in drafting their own responses.

2.7 Table 2.1 below contains a list of campaign organisers; the way in which responses were submitted to the Scottish Government; and the consultation questions addressed by their standard campaign texts.[4] While the standard campaign texts varied in their coverage of the specific issues and topics discussed in the consultation paper, all the campaigns also called for a ban on fracking in Scotland. Further details about each campaign, including copies of the standard campaign texts, are provided in Annex 1 of this report.

Table 2.1: Overview of campaigns

Campaign organiser Submission method / format Consultation questions addressed by standard campaign text
Avaaz Via Avaaz website Questions 1, 3, 6, 10
Broad Alliance Model response sent via Scottish Government consultation hub or post Questions 1–10
Broad Alliance Postcards Questions 1–10
Friends of the Earth Scotland Via Friends of the Earth website Questions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10
Friends of the Earth Scotland Postcards Question 9, 10
Greenpeace Via Greenpeace website Questions 1, 4, 5, 6, 10
Scottish Greens Via Scottish Greens website Questions 1, 6, 9, 10
South Lanarkshire Against Unconventional Gas (SLAUG) Prepared sample letter, submitted by post Questions 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10

Petitions

2.8 This consultation also received five separate petitions. Petitions comprised an initial petition statement, followed by a list of signatories and their contact details. Some petition organisers also provided further background information for signatories. In all cases, petitions called for the Scottish Government to permanently ban fracking in Scotland. Petitions were submitted to the Scottish Government both in electronic and paper format. In some cases, petition signatories were also able to write brief comments alongside their signature.

2.9 Table 2.2 below contains a list of the petition organisers; details of how the petition was submitted; and the consultation questions addressed by the petition statement. Petitions which simply called for a ban on fracking have been analysed with comments submitted by other respondents in relation to Question 10. Further details about each of the petitions are given in Annex 2.

Table 2.2: Overview of petitions

Petition organiser Submission method Consultation questions addressed by petition statement
38 Degrees Online petition (with option to include comments) Question 10
Torrance resident, Ruth Dunster Online petition through change.org (with option to include comments) Questions 9 and 10
Children's petition (Friends of the Earth, West Fife) Paper petition signed by children at Dunfermline Fresh Air Festival Question 10
Our Forth Paper petition Questions 7 and 10
Scotland Against Fracking Paper petition Question 10

Number of responses included in the analysis

2.10 Altogether, the consultation received 61,328 submissions. Following the removal of blank, invalid or duplicate responses, or multiple responses from a single individual, 60,535 responses remained (see Annex 3 for a detailed description of the data validation process). Thus, the analysis was based on these 60,535 responses. (See Table 2.3.) These comprised:

  • 8,425 substantive responses (14%) – responses drafted by respondents using their own words, and non-standard campaign responses
  • 21,077 standard campaign responses (35%)
  • 31,033 petition signatories (including 8,375 comments) (51%)

Table 2.3: Number of responses included in the analysis

Response type Submission route Standard campaign responses and other identical responses Substantive responses (including non-standard campaign responses) Total responses (n)
Campaign responses
Avaaz 100 458 558
Broad Alliance (postcards) 946 366 1,312
Friends of the Earth Scotland (online) 15,088 1,178 16,266
Friends of the Earth Scotland (postcards) 4,574 8 4,582
Greenpeace 251 2,555 2,806
Scottish Greens 836 836
South Lanarkshire Against Unconventional Gas (SLAUG) 118 1 119
Multiple campaigns (combined multiple different responses)* 195 195
Sub-total, campaign responses 21,077 5,597 26,674
% of total 60,535 35% 9% 44%
Petition signatories
38 Degrees (includes 7,303 comments) 21,326 21,326
Change.org (R Dunster) (includes 1,072 comments) 5,174 5,174
Children's petition 43 43
Our Forth 185 185
Scotland Against Fracking 4,305 4,305
Sub-total, petition signatories 31,033 31,033
% of total 60,535 51% 0% 51%
Received through other routes
Email / post 114 114
Scottish Government consultation hub** 2,714 2,714
Sub-total, received through other routes 2,828 2,828
% of total 60,535 0% 5% 5%
Total responses 52,110 8,425 60,535
% of total 60,535 86% 14% 100%

* 195 respondents submitted two or more non-standard responses through different campaigns. These responses have been combined to form 195 amalgamated responses as described in Annex 3.
** Includes 52 Broad Alliance campaign responses and 14 discussion group responses.

2.11 Throughout the remainder of this report, the term 'responses' will be used to refer to all the responses included in the analysis. However, the following section of this chapter provides a more detailed description of the 8,425 respondents who submitted substantive responses.

About the respondents (substantive responses only)

Types of respondent

2.12 Substantive responses were submitted by 8,239 individuals and 186 organisations or groups. (See Table 2.4.)

Table 2.4: Types of respondent (substantive responses only)

Type of respondent Number of respondents % of total (base=8,425)
Individuals 8,239 98%
Organisations or groups* 186 2%
Total 8,425 100%

* This includes 14 discussion groups who submitted their views using the discussion group response form provided on the Talking Fracking website.

2.13 The largest groups of organisational respondents were community councils and other community groups. Together, these comprised one third (33%) of all the organisational respondents. Other organisational responses were from third sector or non-governmental organisations; private sector / industry bodies; public sector organisations; a range of professional bodies, membership organisations and trade unions; faith groups; and academic or research organisations. (See Table 2.5 below.) A complete list of organisational respondents is provided in Annex 4.[5]

Table 2.5: Organisation / group types (substantive responses only)

Organisation / group type Number of respondents % of total (base=186)
Community councils* 39 21%
Other community groups 24 13%
Third sector / non-governmental organisations** 33 18%
Private sector / industry 22 12%
Public bodies / public sector organisations 16 9%
Professional bodies / membership organisations / trade unions 13 7%
Faith groups 10 5%
Academic / research organisations 7 4%
Other organisational or group respondents*** 22 12%
Total 186 100%

* Includes 13 community councils who submitted discussion group responses.
** Includes one third sector organisation who submitted a discussion group response.
*** Other organisational or group respondents included political parties (or local branches of political parties), activist groups, and Facebook groups.

Geographic location of respondents

2.14 Not all respondents provided a postal address (some gave only an email address), and so it was not possible to identify the country of residence for everyone. However, among those respondents (both individuals and organisations) who gave a postal address, 88% were from Scotland, 11% were from other parts of the UK, and 1% were from the rest of the world. (See Table 2.6.)

Table 2.6: Respondent country of origin (substantive responses only)

Country Number of respondents* % of total (base=7,509)
Scotland 6,629 88%
Rest of the UK (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands) 814 11%
Rest of the world 66 1%
Total 7,509 100%

* These figures refer to the number of respondents (both individuals and organisations) who provided sufficient address information to enable a country of origin to be identified.

2.15 Among respondents living (or based) in Scotland, not everyone provided a postcode. However, among those who did, two-thirds (66%) lived in one of 13 local authority areas identified as potentially having significant shale oil and gas reserves or coal bed methane. These local authorities are: City of Edinburgh; Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Lothian.[6] (See Table 2.7 below.)

Responses to individual questions

2.16 As noted in paragraph 2.10 above, there were 60,533 responses to the consultation. However, not all respondents answered all the consultation questions. At the same time, not all of the comments made at each question were necessarily directly relevant to the question being posed – some related to other consultation questions, or to other issues not covered by any of the questions in the consultation document. For example, the 14 discussion group responses addressed only Questions 8, 9 and 10. However, much of the material included in these responses was relevant to Questions 1–7 and is included in the analysis of those questions.

2.17 Details of the number of respondents who made comments at each question are shown in Annex 5. This analysis shows that Questions 2, 7 and 8 were addressed by a considerably smaller number of respondents than other questions. However, given the point above, the figures shown in Table A5.1 should be considered as indicative only and should not be seen as 'response rates' for the questions.

Table 2.7: Respondents from Scotland living in local authorities with potentially significant shale oil and gas reserves or coal bed methane (substantive responses only)

Local authority Number of respondents* % (base=6,604)
City of Edinburgh 1,064 16%
Clackmannanshire 88 1%
Dumfries and Galloway 191 3%
East Dunbartonshire 164 2%
East Lothian 214 3%
Falkirk 393 6%
Fife 438 7%
Glasgow 805 12%
Midlothian 94 1%
North Lanarkshire 233 4%
South Lanarkshire 257 4%
Stirling 200 3%
West Lothian 202 3%
Total respondents living in local authorities with potentially significant shale oil and gas / CBM reserves 4,343 66%
Respondents from Scotland who do not live in local authorities with significant shale oil and gas / CMB reserves 2,261 34%
Total respondents* 6,604 100%

Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.
* These figures refer to the number of respondents living (or based) in Scotland who provided a postcode with their contact details.

A note about terminology

Note that this consultation sought views on unconventional oil and gas, including technologies such as hydraulic fracturing – commonly referred to as 'fracking' (see Glossary) – and dewatering in relation to the extraction of coal bed methane. However, respondents generally only used the term 'fracking' in their responses, and it was not possible to determine whether they were using it to describe all types of unconventional oil and gas operations, or to describe hydraulic fracturing specifically. Throughout this report, the term 'fracking' will be used interchangeably with the term 'hydraulic fracturing'.