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by Louise Wilson
07 November 2023
King’s Speech: New oil and gas licenses to be awarded annually

Oil rig in the North Sea | Alamy

King’s Speech: New oil and gas licenses to be awarded annually

The UK Government will bring forward legislation to ensure new oil and gas licenses are awarded annually, the King’s Speech has confirmed.

The government will also aim to improve grid connections across the UK and attract investment in renewables.

The speech also included a pledge to support other countries transition away from fossil fuels.

In his first King’s Speech, King Charles said: “Legislation will be introduced to strengthen the United Kingdom’s energy security and reduce reliance on volatile international energy markets and hostile foreign regimes.

“This bill will support the future licensing of new oil and gas fields, helping the country to transition to net zero by 2050 without adding undue burdens on households.”

The announcement confirms reports trailed earlier this week, with the government saying the UK will continue to need oil and gas to meet energy requirements in the years to come.

Energy secretary Claire Coutinho told the BBC that new licenses would improve security of supply but accepted it “wouldn't necessarily bring energy bills down”.

The speech also reflected the difficulties facing the UK economy, with commitments to bringing down inflation, easing the cost-of-living and supporting businesses to grow.

It committed to creating a new bill to promote trade and investment, with trade agreements to be negotiated with “dynamic economies”.

Other pledges included the creation of a National Holocaust Memorial, ending dangerous Channel crossings, a framework for the safe development of AI, and banning the sale of tobacco for those born after 2009.

On the Union, King Charles said: “My government will promote the integrity of the Union and strengthen the social fabric of the United Kingdom.”

MPs will debate the content of the speech this afternoon in the House of Commons.

It was the first delivered by King Charles since he ascended to the throne, though the speech itself is written by the UK Government.

The last state opening of parliament was in May 2022. It is expected that this will be the last before the next general election.

A range of other legislation was also announced, including on prison sentencing, renting and housing, but the impact on Scotland will be limited due to those areas being devolved.

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