Concern about the UK’s energy needs in the next 20 years and, in particular, security of supply is currently high on the political agenda in the UK. The current Conservative government believes that gas has a central role to play in the transition to low carbon generation in the UK and is extremely supportive of the development of the UK’s onshore unconventional gas resources.

In December 2015, the Task Force on Shale Gas, chaired by Lord Chris Smith, published its findings following a year-long examination into how shale gas exploration should be overseen, concluding that shale gas could be produced safely and usefully in the UK. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also published a joint policy statement, emphasising the need to explore shale resources in a safe, sustainable and timely way. 

The purpose of this note is to provide an overview of the UK onshore licensing regime and the regulatory framework, as well as the other main issues that are likely to arise in relation to onshore exploration and appraisal activities.

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