Policy

Providing regulation and licensing of energy industries and infrastructure

Issue

We need to regulate and license energy industries to:

  • make sure all environmental impacts are assessed and managed
  • make work sites and working conditions as safe as possible
  • keep the industries competitive to promote further development
  • make sure the supply chain is contributing to the economy by paying licence fees and taxes

Actions

Oil and gas production and extraction

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for:

The department has set up the Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil to promote the safe, responsible, and environmentally sound recovery of the UK’s unconventional reserves of gas and oil, including shale gas and oil

Coal

DECC sponsors the Coal Authority, which is responsible for:

Nuclear sites

DECC is responsible for developing and implementing policy to make sure nuclear sites in the UK are safe and secure and risks in transporting nuclear materials minimised. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) regulates civil nuclear sites in line with our policies. The Environment Agency is the environmental regulator of the nuclear industry in England and Natural Resources Wales is the environmental regulator in Wales.

We are responsible for:

  • establishing nuclear policy and the regulatory framework
  • acting on advice from the UK’s environment agencies about environmental regulation for the UK nuclear industry
  • representing the UK at international forums that set standards for nuclear safety

Find out more about our responsibilities regarding civil nuclear sites.

Gas and electricity

DECC is responsible for:

Planning and consents for national energy infrastructure

Under the Planning Act 2008, the Planning Inspectorate considers all applications to develop nationally significant energy infrastructure projects in England and Wales. The inspectorate then makes recommendations to ministers at DECC, who make the final decision on the applications.

Find out more about the planning and consents process for national energy infrastructure.

Background

Regulation for nuclear security was established in the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003 (as amended). The ONR carries out the regulations under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. The ONR was formed on 1 April 2011 as an agency of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales regulate the disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear sites under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (EPR).

The Planning Act 2008 reformed the planning and consents process for nationally significant infrastructure projects. It provides a more efficient, transparent and accessible planning system, and establishes a clear separation between policy making and decisions on individual applications. The Act also gives developers a clearer framework with a higher degree of predictability, which helps them make investment decisions with more confidence.

On 12 July 2011 DECC published the final report of the Ofgem Review, which looked at whether or not changes to the regulatory framework for gas and electricity markets were necessary for the government to achieve its energy and climate change goals. The review decided Ofgem would continue to regulate independently of the government and it set clear strategic goals in a new statutory strategy and policy statement.

Who we’re consulting

The Energy Act 2011 sets out the powers the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has to modify gas and electricity licences for the purpose of introducing a cost recovery mechanism. A consultation seeking comments on our proposed modifications to gas and electricity licences will close on 15 March 2013.

Who we’re working with

  • The Planning Inspectorate operates the planning process for nationally significant infrastructure projects
  • Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) regulates the electricity and gas markets in England, Scotland and Wales
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulates work-related health and safety across UK nuclear industry
  • HSE (through the ONR) advises DECC on nuclear safety issues and is responsible for licensing and day-to-day regulation of nuclear sites
  • The Environment Agency is the environmental regulator of the nuclear industry in England and Natural Resources Wales is the environmental regulator in Wales.
  • The Environment Agency is also the environmental regulator for all onshore oil and gas operations, including shale gas, coal bed methane, underground coal gasification in England.

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