§ Mr. Powley
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he has made any licence awards following the invitation to existing exploration licensees announced in the House on 22 July.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I have today announced the conditional award of seven new-style exploration licences, for blocks in England and Scotland until now covered by the old style exploration licence. These new licences will enable operators to proceed to the drilling stage. However, the licences do not give an automatic right to drill any well. Precise plans for a well 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.
Details of the awards made today have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.