A TORY minister has said “no decisions by the regulators have been taken” on six North Sea oil and gas fields which were reported to be set for a green light.

But opposition MPs accused the Government of “tanking efforts” to meet global climate targets, and said allowing further gas and oil exploration would be “flying in the face” of its carbon commitments.

Energy minister Greg Hands said: “The fields referenced in these reports are already licensed, some dating back to as early as 1970 and are now going through the usual regulatory processes.

“All proposals are subject to a rigorous scrutiny process prior to consent, as opposed to licensing, by our expert regulators, including an environmental impact assessment and a public consultation.”

He added: “Continued support for Britain’s oil and gas sector is not just compatible with our net zero goals, it is essential if we’re to meet the ambitious targets we’ve set for ourselves while protecting jobs and livelihoods.”

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The Telegraph reported earlier in the week that six North Sea oil and gas fields are set to be given the green light this year.

Asking an urgent question in the House of Commons, Green MP Caroline Lucas called for a Commons vote on any recommendations to the Oil and Gas Authority that undermine climate commitments.

She noted global commitments to keep global warming to 1.5C and that the UK still holds the Cop presidency, and asked “why is he ignoring that and giving the green light to the extraction of more oil and gas?”

The MP for Brighton Pavilion added: “Can he confirm if he and his Government are actually still committed to net zero by 2050 and the interim targets? Because frankly judging by their actions that seems to be in question”.

She asked: “Will he agree that any Government recommendation to the Oil and Gas Authority that undermines the House of Commons’ formal declaration of a climate emergency, as well as our international climate obligations, should at the very least be subject to a parliamentary vote in this House?”

Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, said: “Granting new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea is flying in the face of the Government’s commitment to get to net zero.”

And Labour’s Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, said: “The UK Government is tanking efforts to keep us to 1.5C by approving these six new oilfields.”

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Labour shadow climate change minister Alan Whitehead said: “The Government is thrashing around over what we know is now a decade of failure on energy and particularly the transition to a low carbon energy economy.”

“We need a phased and just transition in the North Sea”, he said, but added the test of that should ask whether actions are “compatible with keeping global warming to 1.5C”.

Hands, responding to Hobhouse, said: “Whatever she may read in the Daily Telegraph, these are actually not new licences, these are how the licence gets processed.”

The minister said the Government is working with the industry to “transform” jobs and the energy supply, adding: “It is a transition, not an attempt… to close down the sector, which I think is what the Green Party is calling for.”

He said: “These are fields that have already been licensed. So that has been taken into account, for example, in our net zero strategy, and also in terms of our carbon budgets coming up.”

The minister added: “This is not in itself a debate between gas or renewables. The debate here in front of us if whether we get the gas we currently need from the UK continental shelf or import it from abroad.”

He said: “We are committed to a decarbonised power sector, so long as it’s consistent with security of supply, by the year 2035, as well as being consistent, obviously, with the net zero strategy and the UK getting to net zero by 2050.”