Thousands of Lancashire voters could turn their backs on pro-fracking candidates in a protest vote which would influence the outcome of the general election across some of the county’s key marginal seats, new research shows.
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More than one in three (39%) local people say they would be less inclined – and one in five (21%) much less inclined – to vote for candidates backing fracking in their constituencies, according to a major survey of over 2,000 Lancashire residents. This compares with just 24% who say they would be more inclined to do so.
Nearly one in four Tory (24%) and over one in three Lib Dem voters (39%) also say they would be less likely to vote for a pro-fracking candidate despite their party’s support for shale, according to a Redshift survey for Greenpeace UK.
With just a week to go before the election, 1,100 candidates from all the main parties have made a public promise to oppose fracking in their constituencies. They include about a quarter of all Lib Dem and Labour prospective MPs.
In two Lancashire seats – Fylde and Lancaster and Fleetwood – half of the candidates or more have already made the Frack Free Promise, including Tory incumbent Eric Ollerenshaw.
Greenpeace has also identified the eight seats in Lancashire where the incumbents could face a ballot box backlash over fracking. These are the top marginal seats in the county where the majority candidates have neither publicly opposed fracking in their constituencies nor voted for a fracking moratorium.
Across all eight seats – four held by the Tories, three by Labour, and one by the Lib Dem – the number of voters who say they would be less likely to vote for a pro-fracking candidate exceeds the narrow majorities defended by the incumbents.
A ‘fracking swing’ in Lancashire could end up influencing the balance of power emerging from the closest election in memory.
The Redshift survey also shows a strong majority of Lancashire residents would prefer to see political support going to clean energy (57%) rather than fracking (17%).
The constituency with the strongest support for renewables as opposed to fracking (62% vs 11%) is Morecambe & Lunesdale, where the Conservative incumbent David Morris once described wind farms as ‘green vandalism driven by greed’ and has openly called for more shale gas exploration.
‘Fracking is proving to be a massive turn-off for Lancashire voters, and candidates backing it could end up paying a significant price at the ballot box. Three times more Lancashire people want their politicians to support safe, clean energy instead of the risky gamble that is fracking. Candidates should listen to their local communities and promise to oppose this dangerous industry in their constituencies.’
Louise Hutchins, Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner
Conservatives, Lib Dems and Ukip have all confirmed their support for fracking in their election manifesto, whilst Labour’s backing remains conditional on tougher regulations being introduced. The Green Party is completely opposed to fracking.
Nearly half of all those interviewed (48%) – including a relative majority of Tory and Lib Dem voters – think pro-fracking MPs could lose their seats because of their support for the controversial industry.
Click here to find out more about the Frack Free Promise and to view a map of areas that have fracking licences.
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