Labour Government denies it has ordered 'immediate ban' on new North Sea oil drilling

The Labour Government has denied reports it ordered an immediate ban on new drilling in the North Sea.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband had reportedly told regulators not to approve a new round of drilling which was expected in the coming weeks.

But the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) said the story was "a complete fabrication" which "invents meetings and decisions that have not taken place."

Labour had said before the general election that it would not revoke existing oil and gas licences but would stop any new ones from being issued.

The Telegraph reported that former Labour leader Miliband had overruled his own officials with the decision and risked sparking legal action.

A DESNZ spokesperson 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.”

Some 76 oil and gas companies submitted applications as part of the 33rd offshore oil and gas licensing round initiated by the Tories in autumn 2023.

Bids for up to 35 areas of the North Sea were still awaiting a decision from the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) when the election was called.

Environmental experts say the use of oil and gas is a key contributor to climate change.

Labour also has plans to extend the windfall tax on the bumper profits made by energy giants. This is opposed by the SNP.

The new Government is still to announce the location of its publicly-owned energy company, called GB Energy.

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