Our role in non-renewable energy is to protect the environment and human health. We regulate aspects of fuel extraction and storage, refining and energy generation from coal, oil and gas. Our regulatory roles include Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (known as PPC), Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (known as CAR) and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (known as ETS).
We also have duties regarding local air quality management and are a statutory consultee on major planning applications , Environmental Impact Assessmentsand Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs).
Oil and gas
We regulate conventional onshore oil and gas storage and refining, such as the Lybster oil well in the Inner Moray Firththrough PPC. Depending on the potential impact to the water environment, we may also regulate certain activities under CAR.
On 03 October, Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, confirmed to Parliament the Scottish Government’s intention not to support unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland, subject to the completion of the necessary statutory assessments.
Mr Wheelhouse set out the Scottish Government’s preferred position, based on the findings of the public consultation and the extensive evidence collated. Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the Government’s carefully considered position before the end of 2017. Further information, including the full text of the Minister’s statement, can be found on the Scottish Government website
The position is implemented with immediate effect. The Scottish Government has written to Heads of Planning Scotland to confirm the Planning Directions, which gave force to the moratorium in January 2015, will remain in place indefinitely. These Directions have ensured that no planning or environmental consents for unconventional oil and gas have been issued in Scotland.
Our role is limited with respect to offshore oil and gas as it is a reserved matter. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)) are responsible for licencing and regulating the exploration, production and decommissioning of offshore oil and gas activities. Together, BEIS and the Health and Safety Executive ((HSE) have formed the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator.
We are a designated consultee on SEAsand advise the Government on the development of policy and regulation. We are also working with Government and stakeholders to develop a robust regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage, which includes consideration of offshore geological storage of carbon dioxide and its related onshore infrastructure.
We also regulate the refining of oil and gas for the creation of fuels, such as at Grangemouth refinery, through PPC.
Licences and permits for access to the Nation’s coal primarily fall under the remit of the Coal Authority as do legacy issues such as subsidence of abandoned mines and mine water pollution. However, we regulate the environmental impacts of coal related activities through CAR, Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011, and the Radioactive Substances Act 1993. These activities include coal mining and coal bed methane extraction.
In relation to underground coal gasification (UCG), in October 2015, the Scottish Government put in place a moratorium on UCG so that evidence on this technology could be gathered and considered.
Professor Campbell Gemmell, Professor of Environment Research, Policy, Regulation and Governance at the University of Glasgow, was asked to undertake an independent examination of UCG.
Following the publication of this independent report on 6 October 2016, which highlights serious environmental concerns, Mr Wheelhouse stated in Scottish Parliament, “Having considered the report in detail, it is the Scottish Government’s view that UCG poses numerous and serious environmental risks and, on that basis, the Scottish Government cannot support this technology. Accordingly, UCG will have no place in Scotland’s energy mix at this time.”
The full statement from Scottish Government is available on their website.