§ Mr. Pawsey
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to introduce regulations regarding the implementation of the EU hydrocarbon directive, onshore petroleum licensing and further amendments to the offshore licensing regime. 
§ Mr. Eggar
The following sets of regulations which are due to come into force on 30 June were laid before the House yesterday.
- The Hydrocarbons Licensing Directive Regulations 1995 (SI 1995 No. 1434);
- The Petroleum (Production) (Seward Areas) (Amendment) Regulations 1995 (SI 1995 No. 1435);
- The Petroleum (Production) (Landward Areas) Regulations 1995 (SI 1995 No. 1436);
The EU hydrocarbons licensing directive—94/22/EC—was adopted in May 1994. It is designed to extend the single market principles of transparency and non-discrimination to the award of licences to explore for and develop oil and gas. The directive received the whole-hearted support of Her Majesty's Government. It will provide United Kingdom companies with opportunities to compete on equal terms for licences and contracts in other EU member states and thereby put to good use their hard-won experience and expertise in offshore petroleum production. The directive is being implemented through the three sets of regulations announced today. The Hydrocarbons Licensing Directive 237W Regulations set out the criteria for the award of licences. The Seaward Areas (Amendment) Regulations, and the Landward Area Regulations reflect the detailed changes needed to implement the directive.
In addition, the new landward areas regulations, which follow discussions with the industry, introduce a new framework for onshore licensing. This will comprise a single licence, the petroleum exploration and development licence or, PEDL, which replaces the separate exploration, appraisal and development licences. Returns relating to the progress of operations under a licence will in future be required annually rather than every six months. The introduction of a single licence covering all stages of activity, together with the reduced reporting requirement, will make the licensing system more flexible, reduce bureaucracy and thereby lessen the burden on the industry.
Applications for PEDLs will be invited in licensing rounds, as is under the current system. Later this year I will publish in the Official Journal of the European Communities a formal announcement giving the detailed financial terms for new landward licences and the basis on which awards will be made. The notice will invite applications for a new round of onshore licensing.
In parallel with the new round, I will be inviting holders of existing exploration, appraisal and production licences to transfer acreage in these licences to the new style PEDL.
§ Mr. Ainger
To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what effect the implementation of EU directive 85/337 on environmental impact assessments in respect of offshore oil and gas licensing will have on the 16th offshore licensing round; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) when he will bring forward regulations to implement EU directive 85/337 on environmental impact assessments in respect of offshore oil and gas licensing. 
§ Mr. Eggar
I intend to introduce the necessary regulations by April 1996, in accordance with the confirmation given to the European Commission on 18 April 1995. It is intended that these regulations will, when in force, apply to developments under licences awarded in the 16th round. It has been the Government's policy since 1988 to attach special conditions to licences for blocks within 25 miles of the coast or in other sensitive areas requiring companies to carry out environmental impact assessments before any consent for development is given. Such conditions will be attached to those blocks awarded in the 16th round which are within 25 miles of the coast or in other sensitive areas.
§ Mr. Ainger
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when his Department informed the EU Commission that it would enact EU directive 85/337 on environmental impact assessment in respect of offshore oil and gas licensing; and if he will place a copy of that response in the Library. 
§ Mr. Eggar
The Government confirmed to the European Commission on 18 April 1995 that legislation to implement directive 85/337 in respect of oil and gas licensing would be introduced within the next year. This was in response to a letter from the Commission following up a complaint by a third party. The detail of correspondence between the Commission and member states relating to complaints of this kind is confidential238W between the parties and I shall not, therefore, be depositing a copy in the Library of the House.