Natural gas production from shale enjoys widespread backing across the country, with more than three times as many supporting production as opposing it, according to a new survey.

There is overwhelming support for reducing ­Britain's reliance on gas imports from overseas, the poll has found.

The findings, which give a boost to controversial proposals for commercial fracking, come from a survey by Populus of 4,000 adults, commissioned by UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), the trade association that represents the UK's onshore oil and gas industry.

Loading article content

The study found that 57 per cent of people support the production of natural gas from shale in the UK, compared with 16 per cent who oppose and 27 per cent who are undecided.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) agree that Britain needs to produce its own energy so it is not reliant on gas from other countries, compared with just 1 per cent who disagree.

Nearly three-fifths (59 per cent) would be willing to see natural gas from shale production go ahead as long as it forms part of a mix that includes renewable energy sources, with only 12 per cent disagreeing.

Ken Cronin, chief ­executive of UKOOG, said: "This survey shows that most people across the country think that shale gas should be developed.

"More than four out of five of us heat our homes with gas, and Britain's shale resource gives us the opportunity to become less dependent on foreign energy supplies and create tens of thousands of jobs."