HC Deb 12 March 1984 vol 56 cc10-1
9. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the current number of licences granted by his Department for onshore exploration and production of oil and gas.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There are currently 100 exploration and 113 production licences.

Mr. Douglas

Will the Minister give details of the number of licences that have existed for a reasonably long time during which no drilling has taken place? Will he also give an undertaking that he will liaise with his right hon. Friends responsible for planning matters to ensure some harmony between the development of exploration and production of onshore oil and gas and the planning mechanism of the local authorities involved, because of the view that they are out of harmony and that we need an update and examination of the issue?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I could not without notice give the hon. Gentleman the detailed information for which he has asked. I am sure he understands that. Liaison with the planning authorities is one aspect of the review that I have been carrying out for the past six months. I hope that when I announce the results of the review, which will be fairly soon, we shall be able to meet some of the points and anxieties which have been expressed and which I think the hon. Gentleman feels.

Mr. Orme

As Wytch farm is the largest onshore development, will the Minister give us an assurance that no action will be taken by the Government to sell that valuable asset before the Select Committee has met and reported?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The right hon. Gentleman knows that that matter is under consideration and being dealt with at present.