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Detail of outcome
Following the consultation on the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of the 14th round, the OGA has published its official response and updated post-consultation final technical report. The response document provides a summary of the key issues raised by those responding to the consultation and the OGA’s response to these points. Having considered the responses to the consultation, the OGA has, where appropriate, updated its assessment and the updated HRA technical report (with its associated appendices) has, therefore, been republished alongside this consultation response. Following the conclusion of the consultation process, the OGA is now satisfied that the approval of the 14th licensing round and the offer and eventual award of each of the licences under the round will not have an adverse effect on the integrity of any protected European site.
Under the Petroleum Act 1998, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change may grant licences for a defined geographical area (ordnance survey “blocks”) and for a specified period of time. These licences confer exclusive rights on the licensee to “search and bore for and get” petroleum but do not, in their own right, confer on the licensee any consent, permission or authorisation to carry out development activity.
The oil and gas licensing system is administered by the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), an executive agency of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), on behalf of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Oil and gas licensing administration transferred from DECC to the OGA on 1st April 2015.
On the 28th of July 2014, DECC opened the 14th round for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas, with the round closing on the 28th October 2014. In total, DECC received 95 licence applications covering 295 blocks in England, Scotland and Wales. Following reviews of geotechnical analysis, scrutiny of the operator competency, financial viability, capacity and environmental awareness and following the decision not to award licences in Scotland and Wales, this was reduced to 159 blocks for further consideration.
Why We Are Consulting
Each of these 159 blocks, for which a licence application has been received, has been analysed and assessed in accordance with the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (the Habitats Regulations). The Habitats Regulations provide for certain protections to be accorded to sites designated under the Regulations.
It is the purpose of this strategic plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment to present the findings of the appropriate assessment of effects on European sites arising from the blocks that were taken forward for further consideration. The associated consultation is designed to seek views on the proposed approach and assessment.
We would welcome your views in line with the questions posed in the consultation document.