Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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The future for North Sea regional development - policy, energy transition, environmental protection and economic growth

Morning, Wednesday, 3rd July 2024


This conference will focus on next steps for development of the North Sea.

It will bring together stakeholders and policymakers to examine the way forward for the UK’s North Sea energy transition, including the future of oil and gas exploration and renewables development in the region, and priorities for environmental protection, fair use and economic development of the North Sea coastal regions.

Sessions in the agenda will examine the North Sea energy transition in the context of the UK’s decision to extend oil and gas licenses in 2023 and into 2024, and potential implications for progress towards the Scottish and UK Government’s net zero targets following concerns from Parliamentarians. It also comes with reports that the North Sea Transition Authority has approved 31 licences for drilling that could extend production until 2060.

Delegates will consider priorities outlined in the NTSA’s new OGA Plan to reduce UKCS greenhouse gas emissions, which highlighted the need for action on production decarbonisation, alongside investment concerns raised amongst some operators over the progress of asset electrification.

Further sessions look at priorities for scaling up renewables whilst protecting the oil and gas industry, with discussion on key issues for environmental protection in the North Sea, as well as priorities for fair use, cooperation and balanced economic development amongst all industries who operate in the area. Discussion will consider targets and plans laid out in both the UK’s Powering up Britain strategy and Scotland’s Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan.

There will also be a focus on spreading the contribution of North Sea economic activity to coastal communities and maximising the benefits for host regions, looking at the role of community benefit funds, and balancing environmental conservation with socio-economic development.

The conference will also be an opportunity to assess alternative approaches for the future sustainable economic development of the North Sea, and potential impacts on industry and investment of plans recently announced by the Labour Party to raise revenue from the North Sea through a windfall tax on the oil and gas sector.

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with: Gillian Martin MSP, Minister for Climate Action, The Scottish Government; and Maggie McGinlay, CEO, ETZ.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • UK energy transition: priorities for the oil and gas sector - the role of decommissioning - achieving a just transition - supporting innovation in CCUS, hydrogen and renewable development
  • renewable energy development: developing offshore wind capacity and storage - priorities for innovation such as wave technologies - addressing infrastructure challenges and grid integration
  • balanced economic growth: transitioning to a low-carbon economy - ensuring fair use and a joined-up approach for all sectors - establishing and protecting supply chains
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management: addressing the impacts of climate change on North Sea infrastructure - coastal adaptation strategies - holistic approaches to coastal planning
  • ecosystem conservation: safeguarding vulnerable species and habitats - minimising plastic waste, and oil and chemical contamination - innovative clean-up solutions - managing eutrophication
  • sustainable fisheries management: enforcing sustainable practices - regulatory frameworks and regional cooperation - maintaining fish stocks and preserving fisheries
  • coastal communities: environmental conservation alongside socio-economic development - maximising impact of community benefit funds for coastal host regions - future development options
  • policy: cohesive approaches to development - considering alternative strategies - the OGA plan, net zero targets, and meeting goals laid out in the North Sea Transition Deal
  • cross-border relationships: governance and transnational North Sea cooperation - knowledge exchange and addressing shared challenges - sustainable development initiatives and joint research
  • blue economy and innovation: economic development in key sectors such as maritime transportation, aquaculture and biotechnology - R&I and funding priorities - workforce training and skills needs

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; OEP; MMO; DESNZ; Ofgem; NIC; POST; DBT; Department for Communities, NI; FCDO; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Keynote Speakers

Gillian Martin MSP

Minister for Climate Action, The Scottish Government

Maggie McGinlay

Chief Executive Officer, ETZ

Keynote Speakers

Gillian Martin MSP

Minister for Climate Action, The Scottish Government

Maggie McGinlay

Chief Executive Officer, ETZ


Professor Catalina Spataru

Director, UCL Energy Institute

Sandy Luk

Chief Executive, Marine Conservation Society

Councillor Ann Bell

Chair, North East Scotland Fisheries Development Partnership; and Chair, North Sea Commission Marine Resources Group

David Linden

Head of Energy Transition, Westwood Global Energy Group

Fraser Dobbie

Chief Financial Officer, North Star Shipping

Professor Jon Gibbins

Director, UKCCS Research Centre

John Boland

Regional Officer, Unite the Union

Mike Park

Chief Executive Officer, Scottish White Fish Producers Association

Joris Koornneef

Senior Scientist, North Sea Energy

Gordon Watson

Professor of Marine Zoology, University of Portsmouth