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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 08:02 GMT 09:02 UK
Plans to improve UK gas supplies
North sea gas rig
There are fears of an energy shortage next winter
The government wants to improve the security of UK energy supplies by making it easier to build new gas storage sites.

Alistair Darling, Secretary for Trade and Industry (DTI), is set to reveal the plans as early as Monday.

They include making it easier to build new gas storage facilities in the UK by changing planning permission.

The UK was hit by gas supply problems in March when one of the country's main storage sites was shut after a fire.

Energy review

The new rules expected to be introduced could make it easier to build up to 10 new storage facilities.

"We have a need for more gas storage in the UK. In the past winter that has been clear," said a DTI spokesperson.

"We need to make sure that planning authorities realise the national significance of these planning applications," said the spokesperson.

Mr Darling will be looking into anti-competitive practises in Europe that have played a part in energy shortages in the UK, he told the Financial Times.

He added that the forthcoming energy review would be examining different options to meet the UK's energy needs and that new sources of energy, including nuclear, needed to be given consideration.

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