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The UK’s policy on decommissioning, and its execution, is overseen by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). While the UK has policy documentation, much of this policy stems from the UK’s obligations under international law.
The Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf 1958 (Geneva Convention) was the original convention that governed the law of the sea (and remains the only convention that refers to ‘removal’ of installations). The Convention was ratified by UK in 1964 by the Continental Shelf Act 1964 (CSA 1964) which vested in the Crown all rights exercisable in designated areas outside territorial waters in relation to the sea bed and subsoil in those areas.
Today, there are two fundamental international conventions that apply to the decommissioning of installations in the UK:
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS)—widely accepted as customary international law and considered to have replaced the Geneva Convention (as many countries failed to implement the entire removal rule); and
The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic 1992 (OSPAR)—provides a more localised approach to decommissioning in the north west of Europe
The UK acceded to UNCLOS in 1997 and Article 60(3) provides discretion to signatories for
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