Global environmental group, Greenpeace is leading a number of activists insisting there are legal implications to the move by the UK government to conduct 100 licensing round.
In the main, Greenpeace is asking a High Court to issue a judicial review on whether the UK’s massive oil and gas licensing round – expected to produce over 100 new licenses – passed the climate impact test.
Last September, the short lived government of Liz Truss paved the way for over 100 new oil and gas licenses in the UK North Sea as the UK focused on its energy security.
Early in October, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) – the UK’s oil and gas regulator – launched the 33rd offshore licensing round, inviting applications for licenses to explore and potentially develop 898 blocks and part-blocks in the North Sea, which may lead to over 100 licenses being awarded.
The UK government said Britain’s energy security will be “significantly boosted” with the launch of the 33rd licensing round.
“Authorities will be looking at operators starting production after license awards as quickly as possible, and in order to encourage that, the NSTA has identified four priority cluster areas in the Southern North Sea.
“Those areas have known oil and gas reserves, are close to infrastructure, and have the potential to be developed quickly. The authority will seek to license blocks in these areas ahead of others,” the North Sea Transition Authority said yesterday
The application period will run until January 12, 2023, and the first licenses are expected to be awarded in the second quarter of 2023, the Authority said.
A Financial Times yesterday quoted Mr. Phillip Evans, oil and gas campaigner with Greenpeace UK, saying there is a legal challenge to the licensing round. “These licences are a complete disaster,” he said
He argued that in allowing the massive licensing round to proceed, the UK government has “failed in its legal duty to properly assess their climate impact.”
Two other climate campaign groups, Friends of the Earth and Uplift, have also called on the UK’s Business Secretary Grant Shapps to reverse the decision for the licensing process of his predecessor Jacob Rees-Mogg, saying that the approval of the licensing round was “unlawful”.