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The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) assumed responsibility for administration of Section 34 of the Coast Protection Act 1949 (CPA) in relation to offshore oil and gas operations on behalf of the Department for Transport (DFT) in October 2005.
In April 2011, the Consent to Locate provisions of Section 34 of the CPA were incorporated into the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA), and became part of a new marine licensing regime that included consideration of works detrimental to navigation. Although the MCAA marine licensing regime applies to a number of offshore oil and gas operations, including the disturbance of the seabed and the deposit and removal of substances or articles during the course of decommissioning operations, Section 77 of the MCAA excludes the vast majority of offshore oil and gas operations and carbon dioxide storage operations controlled under the Petroleum Act 1998 (PA) or the Energy Act 2008 (EA). To maintain the Consent to Locate provisions for these excluded operations, Section 314 of the MCAA created a new Part 4A of the EA, transferring the provisions of Section 34 of the CPA to the EA and transferring regulatory competence from DFT to DECC.
As part of this change, DECC determined to revise the procedures in place under the CPA, to ensure that the consenting process under Part 4A of the EA reflected the specific requirements of the operations that are covered by the MCAA exemption. The revision had to take account of the requirements set out in Part 4A of the EA and the development of offshore practices that were not envisaged when the CPA was drafted. It also had to take account of the views of the bodies consulted on navigational matters prior to issuing Consents to Locate.
If possible, it was also considered desirable to align the new regime with other permitting, consenting and approval processes administered by the DECC Environmental Management Team (EMT). DECC has now completed its revision, and the new consenting process is the subject of this consultation. Some elements of the revised process have already been trialled, and have been generally well-received by the industry, but new elements are also proposed to ensure that the regime is fit for purpose and that offshore oil and gas operations and carbon dioxide storage operations do not compromise navigational safety.