The UK Government’s “red tape challenge” was launched in April 2011 with the intention of reducing the regulatory burden on UK business whilst maintaining adequate safeguards.  The review encompasses consideration of both general regulations that cross all sectors (such as health and safety and environment) and examination of selected sectors and industry such as the Energy industry. The review does not cover legislation that is the devolved responsibility of the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The potential “gold plating” of EU regulations is however considered.

Following on from earlier announcements, the Government has recently released the results of the Energy related review which includes offshore oil and gas exploration and production. The outcome is the proposed repeal of 86 regulations and amendments to 48 regulations. A number of existing regulations and Acts of Parliament were reviewed and shall be retained without change.  This update focuses on proposed changes to offshore environment related regulations solely.

Offshore environmental related regulations to be improved

The regulations targeted for “improvement” include:-

  • The Offshore Chemicals Regulations 2002 (amended in 2011), which regulate the use and discharge of chemicals from offshore installations.
  • The Offshore Combustion Installation (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Regulations 2001 (amended in 2007) and The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005 (amended in 2011) – both of which relate to discharges/emissions.
  • The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Conservation of Habitats) Regulations 2001 and amending regulations of 2007 applying the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive.

Next steps

The announcement noted that the regulatory requirements imposed by the Offshore Chemicals Regulations 2002 as amended shall be streamlined “in order to improve functionality and reduce costs for installation operators, whilst maintaining existing environmental protections”. How this shall be achieved in practice remains to be seen as the extent of proposed change is not known. Timescales shall vary depending on the method of implementing changes and whether public consultation is needed on specific proposals.

A full list of the legislation considered pursuant to the Energy review can be found here.

Ongoing engagement

The Government has stated that if a theme subject to review is closed, any other comments shall continue to be considered as part of the wider deregulatory agenda if emailed to:

More information on the red tape challenge is available here.