§ Mr. Adley
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what consultation procedures he has followed with adjacent local authorities, prior to the allocation of oil exploration licences in the English Channel and the Solent;
(2) what obligations he has to consult with local authorities, Crown Estates Commissioners or other bodies, prior to allocating or granting offshore oil exploration licences;
(3) what obligations he has to consult the Crown Estates Commission when granting offshore oil exploration certificates.
§ Mr. Benn
Exploration licences are non-exclusive and cover all British territorial waters and designated areas of the United Kingdom Continental Shelf, not covered by exclusive production licences. Exploration licensees have the right to explore for oil and gas; but drilling requires my permission. The effect, therefore, of further designation, as announced on 27th July, is to extend the areas for exploration and to make these immediately available to holders of petroleum exploration licences. Given this, consultation does not seem necessary on this automatic extension of the territory available to licensees for what is purely exploration activity.