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Fracking: Licensing

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN HL4482, tabled on 8 January 2018

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether responsibility for the procedure for issuing Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences for hydraulic fracturing was removed from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and passed to the Oil and Gas Authority; and, if so, why.

Answered on

17 January 2018

In June 2013 the then Secretary of State for Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) asked Sir Ian Wood to conduct an independently led review of UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) oil and gas recovery, specifically looking at how economic recovery could be maximised.

A key recommendation of the Wood Review was the creation of a new independent body, responsible for operational regulation of the UKCS, focused on supervising the licensing process and maximising economic recovery of the UK’s offshore oil and gas reserves in the short, medium and long terms. Given the many synergies with aspects of the regulation of onshore oil and gas activities (including shale gas) the Review also highlighted the strong rationale for a single regulator to manage the licensing regime for onshore reserves as well. On the basis of these recommendations, the Oil and Gas Authority assumed responsibility for all licensing functions related to offshore and onshore oil and gas in October 2016.

In accordance with the Smith Commission Agreement and St David’s Day Agreement and the resulting Scotland Act 2016 and Wales Act 2017, we are currently in the process of making and laying regulations, which will transfer powers for onshore oil and gas licensing within Scotland and Wales to the Scottish and Welsh Governments respectively. The responsibility for onshore oil and gas licensing in England will remain with the Oil and Gas Authority.