Government insists no decisions made amid reports of Ed Miliband ordering immediate North Sea oil ban

It was reported a new round of licences in the coming weeks will be blocked.

The UK Government has insisted no decisions have been made following reports Ed Miliband had ordered an immediate ban on new North Sea oil and gas licences.

The Daily Telegraph had reported the Energy Secretary overruled officials and told regulators not to approve a new round of drilling that was slated for confirmation in the coming weeks.

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However, this has now been angrily dismissed by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, with a spokesman labelling the claims a “total fabrication”.

Labour has opposed new licences for North Sea oil and gasLabour has opposed new licences for North Sea oil and gas
Labour has opposed new licences for North Sea oil and gas

They said: “This piece is a complete fabrication - it invents meetings and decisions that have not taken place.

“As previously stated, we will not issue new licences to explore new fields. We will also not revoke existing oil and gas licences and will manage existing fields for the entirety of their lifespan.

"We are working with the North Sea Transition Authority to ensure a fair and balanced transition in the North Sea.”

It followed an earlier comment by Mr Miliband’s spokesman saying the UK Government would not issue new licences. However, there was no suggestion this meant an immediate end to new licensing, or that officials were overruled.

Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband (right) has reportedly ordered an immediate North Sea oil ban.Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband (right) has reportedly ordered an immediate North Sea oil ban.
Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband (right) has reportedly ordered an immediate North Sea oil ban.

The response was in line with both the Labour manifesto, as well as previous comments made by Mr Miliband, who in a debate earlier this year, said: “Oil and gas licensing will not reduce energy costs for households and businesses, will not enhance energy security, and offers no plan for the future of the UK’s offshore energy communities.

"It will ensure the UK remains at the mercy of petrostates and dictators who control fossil fuel markets and is entirely incompatible with the UK’s international climate change commitments.”

It comes with bids for up to 35 areas still awaiting a decision from the regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, when the election was called.

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They are now hoping for clarity on what a change of Government will mean for new licenses. It is expected the party will set out more of its tax plans for oil and gas in the The King’s speech next Wednesday.

Despite the story being rubbished, Claire Coutinho, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, still used the report to attack the Labour party, saying the decision would benefit “Putin and China”.

She said: “Ed Miliband has overridden the advice of business leaders and the unions to commit an enormous act of economic self-harm.

“This ideological move puts both our energy security and 200,000 jobs at risk. We will still need oil and gas for decades. Labour have just made us more reliant on importing it from abroad with as much as four times the carbon emissions.

“Who will benefit? Putin, China, and exporters in Qatar and the US.”

A spokesperson for the NSTA said: “We follow the policy direction set by the government of the day.”

It comes as group of business and organisation leaders called on Labour to locate the headquarters of GB Energy in the Highlands.

Colin Marr, chief executive of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, wrote to the Energy Secretary along with Derek Brown, chief executive of the Highland Council and others.

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