§ Mr. George Osborne
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what Government policy is on the construction of underground gas storage facilities. 
§ Mr. Wilson
Gas storage facilities (including underground) will have an increasingly important role, as Great Britain becomes increasingly dependent on imported gas and as the "swing" capability of North Sea gas fields declines, in helping gas suppliers to meet peak demand requirements. In this way they contribute to security of supply. They can also help to keep prices down by enabling suppliers to purchase additional gas, to put into storage, when wholesale prices are low.
The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, acting under its duties to protect the interests of consumers, supports the development of new gas storage projects. Proposals for new storage projects are subject to regulatory 167W consents, notably planning permission and under health and safety legislation. Energy security, including gas storage, is a key element of the energy policy review currently being undertaken by the Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office. The review is due to conclude at the end of the year.