§ Mr. Batiste
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he has considered the applications he received in September 1985 for landward petroleum licences in the first onshore round; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I have today announced the conditional award of 20 new-style exploration licences for blocks in England and Scotland which until now have been covered by old style exploration licences. The new style licences will allow companies to proceed to the exploration drilling stage. However, the licences do not give an automatic right to drill exploration wells. Licensees' precise plans are subject to planning permission and to my consent, which will not be given unless the operator provides evidence that planning permission has been obtained.
I will make an announcement about the applications received in the round for currently unlicensed areas as soon as possible next year.
Details of the awards made today have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.