ALMOST three-quarters of people polled across 30 countries support the creation of a wildlife sanctuary in the Arctic, a survey has found.

Polling of more than 30,000 people in countries ranging from the UK to Brazil revealed that seven out 10 (71 per cent) believed the Arctic Ocean should be free from oil drilling.

And almost two-thirds (64 per cent) thought oil drilling, oil transportation and industrial-scale fishing should be banned in international waters around the North Pole.

Loading article content

Across the world 74 per cent of people backed an Arctic sanctuary.

Meanwhile in the UK support was even stronger at 78 per cent.

Backing for a formally protected area for animals and marine life was highest in Argentina, Italy, India and South Africa, but it was also high in Arctic states such as Canada and the US, with almost four-fifths (78 per cent and 79 per cent respectively) supporting a sanctuary.

Two-thirds of people quizzed in the UK thought the Arctic should be free from oil exploration.

A similar number thought drilling, oil transportation and large-scale fishing should be banned in international waters round the North Pole.

The poll for Greenpeace, which last year saw 30 people on its ship the Arctic Sunrise detained by Russian security forces over a protest against oil drilling in the Russian Arctic's Pechora Sea, comes as it ramps up calls for a sanctuary in the High Arctic.

Climbers and mountaineers are scaling mountain peaks and buildings throughout the day to unfurl banners calling on governments to "Save the Arctic".

More than 900 influential people including Arch­bishop Desmond Tutu, Emma Thompson, Sir Richard Branson and Sir Paul McCartney have signed Greenpeace's Arctic Declaration in the past two months.

The declaration which is calling for the creation of a protected area in the region to preserve its wildlife and prevent the carrying out potentially damaging activities such as oil drilling, will be presented to the embassies of Arctic states around the world.