UK OIL & GAS REGULATOR
The UK's new Conservative government is planning an energy bill to set up the new Oil and Gas Authority with the powers it needs to become a "robust, independent and effective regulator" and to give local communities the final say on wind farm applications, the government said Wednesday.
The new energy bill was announced in the Queen's Speech Wednesday morning. The Queen, setting out the priorities of her new government for the current parliamentary session, said that "measures will be introduced to increase energy security."
The Conservatives won a majority in parliament in May 7 elections.
In explanatory notes the government said the bill would formally establish the OGA as a government company to act as an independent regulator charged with managing the country's oil and gas recovery.
The bill would transfer powers from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to the OGA. It would also give the OGA additional powers including access to company meetings, data acquisition, dispute resolution and sanctions.
The bill would also control the fees and charges levied by the OGA.
The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change would retain certain existing regulatory functions relating to the environment.
The OGA was set up following the Wood Review of the North Sea, which recommended the establishment of an independent regulator as a way for the country to maximize the recovery of its reserves.
Headquartered in Aberdeen, the OGA was first set up as an executive agency of the Department of Energy and Climate Change on April 1, 2015.
Following the new law, it should become an independent government company by summer 2016. This would fully implement the Wood Review recommendation for a regulator an arm's-length away from government.
The OGA is led by Andy Samuel, formerly a manager at explorer BG Group.
The new energy bill will also implement a Conservative party manifesto promise to give local communities more say over onshore wind farms, a move expected to limit the growth of onshore wind.
The bill will remove the need for the Secretary of State's consent for onshore wind farms over 50 MW, transferring powers to local planning authorities instead.
The move affects England and Wales, but not Scotland and Northern Ireland, where there are separate planning rules.
The government is also planning to end new subsidies for onshore wind farms.
The government said this was not included in the planned bill.
It would be "delivered separately," with DECC announcing measures soon.Combined, the measures are thought to have the potential to slow the growth of onshore wind, however, there is already a substantial backlog of projects that already have planning permission.
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