New oil and gas drilling confirmed in King’s Speech

7th November 2023


The UK government will introduce a new bill requiring the North Sea Transition Authority to run oil and gas licensing rounds every year, the King’s Speech confirmed today.

The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill is intended to boost the UK’s energy security and reduce its reliance on foreign imports of oil and gas, despite fears that the proposals risk putting the country’s climate targets out of reach.

The King’s Speech – which was the first in over 70 years – also reiterated the government’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and attracting new investment in renewable energy.

“This Bill will support the future licensing of new oil and gas fields, helping the country to transition to net zero by 2050 without adding undue burdens on households,” King Charles said.

“Alongside this, my ministers will seek to attract record levels of investment in renewable energy sources and reform grid connections, building on the UK’s track-record of decarbonising faster than other G7 economies.”

The North Sea Transition Authority will invite applications for new production licences in the UK’s offshore waters annually, subject to key tests being met:

• The UK is projected to remain a net importer of both oil and gas

• Carbon emissions associated with the production of gas must be lower than the average of equivalent emissions from imported liquefied natural gas.

Meanwhile, following the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2, today’s speech outlined plans to invest in Network North to deliver “faster and more reliable journeys” in the cities and towns of the North and Midlands, “prioritising improving the journeys that people make most often”.

It also confirmed a new Tobacco and Vapes Bill to create a “smokefree generation” by banning the sale of tobacco to children currently aged fourteen or under, and restricting the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children.

On education, the speech highlighted plans to introduce an Advanced British Standard for 16 to 18-year-olds which will bring A-levels and T-levels together into a single qualification.

“Proposals will be implemented to reduce the number of young people studying poor-quality university degrees and increase the number undertaking high-quality apprenticeships,” King Charles said.

The speech also confirmed plans to ban the live export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses, and to ensure animals are slaughtered domestically, by bringing forward an Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill.

In his closing remarks, the King said: “My government will continue to lead action on tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, support developing countries with their energy transition, and hold other countries to their environmental commitments.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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