Committee (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales 4:15 pm, 9th September 2015

My Lords, perhaps I may deal with the last point first. I certainly gave instructions that the impact assessment should be sent out in hard copy form and by email. I take the inference from what the noble Baroness says that she has not received a copy in one of those two ways. She should have done so, and I can only apologise for that. I hope that no one else is in that position.

I shall now deal with the issue of impact assessments. I apologised on Monday for the fact that the impact assessment had not been circulated earlier. It was held up through processes in government—documents are cleared by a particular Minister, but that is not the end of the process, as I am sure the noble Baroness is aware. I can only confirm that it is the case that the assessment was not cleared until Monday. I think I indicated then that that was when it was cleared, and it was only then that we were in a position to notify noble Lords. I hope that I can offer some reassurance because all morning I have been chasing the remaining impact assessments, and indeed a note was passed to me just as the debate opened that they have now been cleared and will be circulated, it is hoped, by the end of the day. However, I will add a word of caution by saying that we will ensure that they are sent around by tomorrow. Once again, I apologise.

I will focus on the general points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, in relation to carbon capture and storage. I thought, as she did, that on Monday we made considerable progress on this issue. There is a shared feeling across the parties that these issues are important and on Monday I gave an undertaking that we would be looking at them between Committee and Report. Letters are going out today to noble Lords who spoke on Monday, as well as to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, who indicated that he could not be here. I have asked that he should be sent a letter. Moreover, anyone who speaks today but who did not speak on Monday will also receive a letter asking about their availability between now and when the House returns on 12 October so that we are able to call a meeting, or potentially a series of meetings. We will ask everyone to the same meetings so that we can thrash these issues out.

My own feeling is that we want to do something; I have not changed my view and I hope that noble Lords will accept my good will on this matter. I am keen that we should move forward, but I do not think that this is the stage at which to talk about exactly how that is going to happen because it is not something that can easily be done. Carbon capture and storage is important to the Government. We committed a significant sum of money to it in our manifesto and that remains very much government policy. We have a good story to tell in that as a country we have the important potential of the North Sea for carbon capture and storage, so I am keen that it should be incorporated in the Bill in a way that it is not at the moment.

My next point will, I hope, address points quite rightly made by my noble friend Lord Howell, and I thank him for his thanks in relation to the impact assessment. Work has started but, in relation to the focus of the Oil and Gas Authority, it is important that we do not load too much work on the authority and diffuse what it seeks to do. There is a balancing act: we are very keen to ensure maximising economic recovery from the North Sea at the same time as realising the great potential that we have from carbon capture and storage. They remain very much our objectives.

I turn to the more technical points, quite validly raised by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, as to what this clause does and what these amendments seek to do to the clauses in the Bill. Although I am a lawyer, that does not mean that I perhaps have any greater insight. Therefore, I tread with trepidation and have spent some time on this. I believe these provisions seek to ensure that, on an assignment of ownership or rights by a party, there is no delay in them being able to take up the rights that were previously enjoyed by the transferor, if I can put it that way. We will have a look at that and I will write to noble Lords on this issue to ensure that it is not any more complicated than that and that it does not prejudice the issues that the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, raised. That is certainly not the intention and I do not believe that it creates difficulties in the way that they indicated might be the case. But I will certainly confirm that.

I hope that that answers the points raised by noble Lords and therefore ask noble Lords to support these amendments.

Amendment 33 agreed.

Amendment 34

Moved by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

34: After Clause 56, insert the following new Clause—

“Applications to use infrastructure: changes of applicant and owner

(1) The Energy Act 2011 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 82(13) (contents of notice securing rights to use infrastructure), omit paragraph (b).

(3) In section 87(6) (circumstances in which information may be disclosed)—

(a) omit the “or” at the end of paragraph (a), and

(b) after paragraph (b) insert “or

(c) the disclosure is made under section 89A or 89B.”

(4) After section 89 insert—

“89A Assignments and assignations of applications

(1) This section applies where—

(a) there is an assignment or assignation of an application made under section 82 from one person (“A”) to another (“B”), and

(b) the following are notified of the assignment or assignation—

(i) the owner of the pipeline or facility that is the subject of the application, and

(ii) the OGA.

(2) A notice under subsection (1)(b) must—

(a) be in writing, and

(b) specify the date of the assignment or assignation.

(3) For the purposes of this Chapter, anything done (or treated as done) by or in relation to A in connection with the application is treated after the assignment or assignation as having been done by or in relation to B.

This subsection is subject to subsections (4) and (5) and does not apply for the purposes of subsections (6) and (7).

(4) Any provision of this Chapter that requires the OGA to give the applicant an opportunity to be heard has effect after the assignment or assignation as requiring the OGA to give B an opportunity to be heard (whether or not the applicant was heard under that provision before the assignment or assignation).

(5) Subsection (3) does not apply in relation to any notice given under section 87 before the assignment or assignation (and, accordingly, the person to whom the notice was given remains under an obligation to comply with it).

(6) Any information relating to the application obtained by the OGA before the assignment or assignation from any person who at the time was the applicant may be disclosed to B.

(7) Before disclosing any such information to B, the OGA must remove any information which the OGA considers may prejudice the commercial interests of the person from whom the information was obtained.

89B Transfers of ownership

(1) This section applies where the ownership of a pipeline or facility that is the subject of an application under section 82, or to which a notice under subsection (11) of that section relates, is transferred from one person (“C”) to another (“D”).

(2) For the purposes of this Chapter—

(a) anything done (or treated as done) by or in relation to C in connection with C’s ownership of the pipeline or facility is treated after the transfer as having been done by or in relation to D, and

(b) any obligations imposed or rights conferred (or treated as imposed or conferred) by or under this Chapter on C in connection with C’s ownership of the pipeline or facility are treated after the transfer as imposed or conferred on D.

This subsection is subject to subsections (3) and (4) and does not apply for the purposes of subsections (5) and (6).

(3) Any provision of this Chapter that requires the OGA to give the owner of the pipeline or facility an opportunity to be heard has effect after the transfer as requiring the OGA to give D an opportunity to be heard (whether or not the owner was heard under that provision before the transfer).

(4) Subsection (2) does not affect the obligation to comply with any notice given under section 87 before the transfer (and, accordingly, the person to whom the notice was given remains under an obligation to comply with it).

(5) Any information relating to the application obtained by the OGA before the transfer from any person who at the time was the owner may be disclosed to D.

(6) Before disclosing any such information to D, the OGA must remove any information which the OGA considers may prejudice the commercial interests of the person from whom the information was obtained.””

Amendment 34 agreed.

Clauses 57 and 58 agreed.

Amendment 34A

Moved by Lord Oxburgh

34A: After Clause 58, insert the following new Clause—

“Carbon capture and storage

Within one year of the coming into force of this Act, the Government shall undertake a consultation on measures requiring extractors and importers of petroleum to contribute to the development of carbon capture and storage.”