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Applying for a Marine Licence?

Overview of the factors used to assess licence applications

How do I apply for a Marine Licence?

Application forms should be completed and submitted with any supporting information for consideration with the appropriate application fee.

Where appropriate, the application should be submitted with supporting documents such as drawings, environmental assessments and location plans. Dredge and disposal applications must be accompanied by a WFD assessment, sediment sampling and analysis results and a biosecurity risk assessment.

Marine Licence application forms and further information on what to submit in support of your application can be found here.

How much do Marine Licence applications cost?

Marine Licence applications fall under 3 different payment bands

Band 1 - low risk activities that are subject to a simpler licensing process. Types of activities that are considered Band 1 can be found on the Band 1 guidance page

Band 2 - types of Band 2 activities include:

  • Small to medium scale construction, alteration or improvement of works eg coastal defence works, bridge repairs
  • Some removal activities using a vehicle or vessel eg removals from the seabed, pier demolition
  • Maintenance dredging activities (unless part of a wider construction scheme) eg maintenance navigational dredging

Band 3 - are defined as complex applications that:

  • Have estimated project costs for marine works over £1 million; and/or:
  • Are required to have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);
  • Are activities involving both construction and dredging elements, including maintenance dredging

Types of Band 3 projects may include:

  • Large construction schemes
  • Marine renewable developments
  • Marine aggregate extraction
  • Capital dredging campaigns
  • Applications for multiple activities, such as construction with dredging elements

Please see the marine licensing fees and guidance page for information regarding our fees and charges.

How are applications determined?

Marine Licences are determined in line with the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and other relevant legislation. When assessing Marine Licence applications, we must have regard for the need to:

  • Protect the environment
  • Protect human health
  • Prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea
  • Other relevant matters

We must also take full account of any requirements on the applicant or the Marine Licensing Team under additional legislation such as:

  • Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (Habitats Regulation Assessment)
  • The Water Framework Directive (WFD)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment under the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 (as amended)
  • The Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Applications will also be determined in compliance with the UK Marine Policy Statement and other relevant policy such as Shoreline Management Plans and Interim Marine Aggregates Dredging Policy.

For certain applications involving the construction, alteration or improvement of works, we must consider the effects of the intended use of the works once complete. For example, in considering an application for a jetty extension that will enable access for bigger vessels, we must consider the effects that the bigger vessels will have on the environment.

When an application for a marine licence is made, we consult with a range of organisations to seek advice on the impacts of the project and any mitigation measures or conditions that should be included within a licence to minimise potential impacts. Consultees vary depending on the type of application.

The application process varies depending on the type of application. Here is a summary of the Band 2 process and Band 3 process.

What organisations do we consult with?

When an application for a Marine Licence is made, we consult with a range of organisations to seek advice on the impacts of the project and any mitigation measures or conditions that should be included within a licence to minimise potential impacts.

Consultees vary depending on the type of application, but may include:

Environmental

  • Internal Natural Resources Wales departments
  • External technical advisors such as; Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). JNCC are consulted on applications for activities beyond 12 nm offshore

Navigational / other

  • Trinity House
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • Royal Yachting Association
  • Ministry of Defence
  • The relevant Local Harbour Authority
  • Department for Transport
  • The Crown Estate / Swangrove Estate. The Crown Estate / Swangrove Estate are the owners of the foreshore / seabed in the majority of cases
  • The relevant Local Planning Authority

Archaeological

  • Local Archaeological Trusts
  • Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

Welsh Government consultees

  • Marine Enforcement Officers
  • Marine Branch
  • Transport Policy, Planning and Partnerships
  • Flood and Coastal Risk Management Branch

Is there a Public consultation?

In most cases applicants are required to place a public notice of their proposals in a local newspaper. This notification will direct interested members of the public to a public building where the applicant must arrange for copies of the application and supporting documents to be available. The notice will also provide the public with contact details so that they can make any representations concerning the application to us. 

We will provide the applicant with the text that must be used in the notice after an application is received.

What are the timescales for determining a Marine Licence Application?

There are no statutory timescales for determining Marine Licence applications. However, our service level agreements (SLA) for determination are:

  • Band 1 applications – 6 weeks, however if it has been determined at the pre-application stage not to require a method statement then it will normally be determined within 4 weeks
  • Band 2 application – 4 months
  • Band 3 application - none, as projects are varied and often complex in nature determination time can vary significantly

The determination service level begins on receipt of a completed application including sampling results where required. Should any information be missing from the application or further information be needed to progress the application, the service level will not commence until this has been received.

We recommend that applications are made taking into account this service level and adding in contingency to ensure your works are not delayed should a licence be granted.

For full list of our service levels for other marine licensing services please see here.

Are other permissions required if a Marine Licence has been granted?

A Marine Licence does not absolve you from applying for any other necessary consents or permissions that may be required prior to works being undertaken.

The following is not an exhaustive list and further advice should be sought from relevant bodies including the Local Planning Authority.

All intrusive works on the seabed within 12 nautical miles of the coast may require consent from The Crown Estate. E-mail consents@thecrownestate.co.uk for further information or clarification as to whether a small works consent is required. If consent is required, a short application form will need to be completed and the application will take up to four weeks to process.

If the location of the activity is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or requires access via a SSSI then a permission from Natural Resources Wales should be sought. More information on our SSSI  guidance page.

If you want to carry out works in, over, under or near a main river, or in a flood plain or flood defence (including a sea defence), you may need to apply for Flood Risk Activity Permit.

Certain species are European Protected Species (EPS). In Welsh marine waters these include, but are not limited to whales, dolphins, porpoises and turtles. It is against the law to damage their breeding sites / resting places, or to deliberately capture, kill, injure or disturb an EPS without a licence. Terrestrial European Protected Species that may be affected by marine licensable activities (eg pier and bridge repairs) include bats and otters.

Further information can be found here.

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