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Shale gas exploration is relatively new to the UK and in its early stages and my Department and other key regulatory bodies, including the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, are working closely together to ensure effective monitoring and appropriate control of these activities.
As is already the case, applicants for licences have to demonstrate that they have the technical and economic means to conduct operations properly. In future onshore licensing rounds, applicants wishing to explore for shale gas will have to demonstrate that they have the appropriate competences and management systems, including systems to ensure protection of the environment. In addition we will be ensuring that the area and quality of the acreage awarded will not exceed the capacity of the industry, both the oil companies and their supply chain, to deliver their proposed work programmes both in a timely manner and to the highest of standards.
Overall, we consider that the regulatory system governing UK onshore oil and gas developments, including shale gas, is robust, and that the key regulatory bodies have appropriate powers to regulate these activities. I have accordingly no present plans for new legislation.