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
Oil and gas production and extraction
The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for:
- issuing licences for oil and gas exploration onshore and on the UK Continental Shelf (area of water around the UK that we claim mineral rights to)
- regulating field development and oil and gas pipeline activities
- regulating the environmental aspects of the offshore oil and gas industry, including decommissioning
- giving companies access to oil and gas exploration and production data
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
DECC sponsors the Coal Authority, which is responsible for:
- issuing licences for coal exploration and extraction and carrying out appropriate inspections of deep mines and opencast sites
- managing the effects of historic mining such as mine water (contaminated water from coal mines) and subsidence damage, and running an emergency call-out service for public safety incidents
- providing access to mining information to property buyers in coalfield areas
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:
- setting the framework for the regulation and licensing of wholesale gas market participants
- appointing members of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, which sets the strategy for the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)
- reviewing Ofgem proposals to modify licences
- deciding on electricity licence exemptions
- dealing with liberalisation of the EU energy market
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.
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 consulted
The Energy Act 2011 set 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 closed 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.