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Onshore Licensing

Volume 81: debated on Tuesday 25 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he will make an announcement about onshore licensing arrangements.

[pursuant to his reply, 23 May 1985, c. 536]: I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of the text of a notice announcing the invitation to apply for exploration licences in the first onshore round. The notice, which is to be published on July 2 in the official gazettes, also details the arrangements for application for appraisal and development licences, and sets out the terms and conditions for all licences. The dates for submission of applications for exploration licences are 24 and 25 September, 1985.There is no question of my allowing onshore oil and gas exploration and production at any price. I seek a balance between national and local interests, between commercial and environmental. I will not allow a single well to be drilled onshore until the full rigour of local planning law has been exercised and until I am satisfied that all the consultations enforced by the new arrangements are completed satisfactorily.For estuarial areas where planning laws do not apply, I have imposed stringent conditions — control over choice of drill sites, seasonal restrictions on drilling, and proof of ability to respond immediately and effectively to any oil spill. In addition licensees must consult with local authorities, the Nature Conservancy Council, local fishery committees, and port authorities.And, should exploration and appraisal be successful in licensed estuarial areas, any development plan will be subject to detailed consideration involving all interested parties. This examination will be co-ordinated and fully evaluated by the Department of the Environment before a decision is taken to allow the development to go ahead.