Opposition to fracking has risen with more than a third of people against the process, a Government survey suggested.
Concern over earthquakes caused by the process has also jumped in the past three months, the poll found, as the first fracking in seven years got under way in Lancashire.
The latest round of the Business Department’s public attitudes tracker, which quizzed 4,273 households in December, showed 35 per cent were opposed to fracking, up from 31 in September.
Just 13 per cent supported fracking for shale gas, a slight decrease from 15 in September, while just under half – 47 per cent – neither supported or opposed it, largely because they did not know enough about it, the findings suggested.
Support for hydraulic fracturing, which extracts gas from shale rock deep underground, has seen a general downward trend since the survey began in December 2013, while opposition has grown.
In the latest survey, support for the process is back down to its lowest level, last seen in September 2017, while opposition is close to the highs of 36 per cent seen in same period.
The most common reason people have for opposing fracking is the loss or destruction of the natural environment, which more than six in 10 (62 per cent) were worried about.
Concern over the risk of earthquakes was the second most common reason for opposition, rising from 26 per cent in September to 40 in the
Fracking restarted in the UK last autumn in Little Plumpton after it was suspended in 2011 following two earthquakes in the Blackpool area.
After energy firm Cuadrilla began fracking at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton in October, work had to be halted on several occasions because tremors above regulated limits
Cuadrilla and another energy company, Ineos, which also hopes to frack in the UK, have called for regulations to be relaxed to allow them to exploit shale gas reserves, but the government has indicated it does not have any current plans to alter the rules.
No fracking has taken place to the site near Blackpool since December, with fracking prior to Christmas triggering 57 tremors – several above the 0.5ML safety limit at which the operation has be paused for 18 hours.
Environmental campaigners have maintained an almost constant presence at the site since work there began.