News story

Government to remove barriers to onshore oil and gas and deep geothermal exploration

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

By removing barriers to deep underground drilling access we are speeding up oil and gas and deep geothermal energy exploration.

Now more than ever, the UK needs secure domestic energy supplies. Since 2003, as North Sea Oil has declined, we have become a net importer of oil and gas and are now increasingly dependent on international energy resources. It is essential that we make the most of home-sourced energy and start exploring the natural energy supplies beneath our feet.

Our vision for Britain is for a prosperous low carbon future, which is why we have made record investment in renewables. Renewable electricity capacity has more than doubled under this government, the number of homes with solar panels on their roofs has risen from 15,000 to more than 500,000 and we have been ranked the world number one for offshore wind.

We know there’s more to do. We know that our journey towards a low carbon future will take time and that emerging energy industries often need government support to get going. That’s why, alongside a further £40 billion of renewable investment running into 2020 we are exploring for shale gas. As the cleanest fossil fuel *gas provides a bridge to much greener future, and Geothermal energy can supply renewable heat to our homes and businesses. This diverse, and continually evolving energy mix is a central part of our plan to reach our carbon targets and guarantee our energy security in the years ahead.

By removing barriers to deep underground drilling access, we are speeding up oil and gas and deep geothermal energy exploration. Realising this potential would help to help bolster our national energy security. Up to now, national oil and gas and geothermal exploration projects at depths around a mile or so beneath the ground could have been significantly delayed by one single landowner. We are introducing legislation so oil and gas and geothermal companies will be able to use underground land but only below 300m (1,000ft). These companies will still need to obtain all the necessary regulatory permissions, like planning and environmental permits.

Business and Energy Minister Matt Hancock said: “Exploring the natural energy resources beneath our feet, within a robust regulatory framework, is important for our national energy security and helps create jobs. These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas and geothermal resources, as we work towards a greener future - and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so.”

*The word ”shale” was removed from this sentence on 26 September 2014.