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Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 10th November 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Verma Baroness Verma The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 4:45 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for his intervention and contribution, because he lays out very clearly our position. In responding again to the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Davies, we are committed to ensuring that the regulator is as strong, competent and influential as a regulator should be. However, it is important to ensure that the powers are practical and effective and do not create unintended consequences, as I stated earlier.

It is also important that we do not undermine investment in the UKCS at such an important time. As part of the call for evidence we will engage with interested parties to discuss how the strategy for maximising economic recovery should apply to commercial arrangements. The noble Lord, Lord Davies, asked if Sir Ian Wood was content with our amendments; the understanding is that he is content, but he also understands very clearly that we must not be undermining investment at this time. It is not our intent that the OGA has the ability to directly interfere with new or existing commercial arrangements. We will ensure that the strategy deals with commercial arrangements in a sensible and proportionate way.

We have listened very carefully to all concerns from industry and other stakeholders but, as my noble friend Lord Jenkin has rightly said, this is a tripartite understanding of investment within the UKCS, and therefore I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Davies, is content with my descriptions of why the amendments are important.

Amendment 113C agreed.

Amendments 113D to 113F

Moved by Baroness Verma

113D: Clause 30, page 32, line 20, leave out from “holder” to end of line 23

113E: Clause 30, page 32, line 27, leave out from “licence” to end of line 30

113F: Clause 30, page 32, line 36, leave out from “infrastructure)” to end of line 39

Amendments 113D to 113F agreed.

Amendment 113G

Moved by Baroness Worthington

113G: Before Clause 32, insert the following new Clause—

“Underground access: environmental protection

(1) All sites extracting petroleum under the provisions of section 32 must—

(a) carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment,

(b) ensure that independent inspections are carried out of the integrity of wells used,

(c) publicly disclose the chemicals used for the extraction process, and the proportions in which they are used on a well-by-well basis,

(d) consult with the relevant water company, and

(e) carry out monitoring over the previous 12 month period.

(2) The Secretary of State must by regulation specify what data shall be required under paragraph (e).

(3) Regulations under subsection (2) must specify as required data the levels of methane in the groundwater and ecological studies, that data shall include but is not limited to levels of methane in the groundwater and ecological studies.

(4) Regulations under subsection (2) must be made by statutory instrument and may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.”