Applying for a marine licence

Coronavirus update


Our staff are now home working wherever possible. This means we can't accept paper application forms at this time. You will be able to submit forms via email and if required you can make payments via BACS.


You will need Microsoft Word 2010 or equivalent to be able to use the electronic forms.


Whilst we hope to keep disruption to a minimum, please be aware there may be a longer processing time during this period of transition.


Find out more about our response to coronavirus

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. The biosecurity risk assessment form can be requested by contacting

Find marine licence application forms and information about how to apply.

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. Read more about types of activities that are considered Band 1

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

Maintenance dredging includes material recently deposited by sedimentation processes in harbour, estuary or sea area.

Band 3

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

Capital dredging includes geological material dredged from previously unexposed layers beneath the seabed and surficial material from areas not recently dredged i.e within 10 years.

Read more about marine licensing 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.

Welsh Government has developed the first Welsh National Marine Plan, adopted on 12 November 2019. The plan sets out Welsh Government’s policy for the next 20 years for the sustainable use of our seas. We must make decisions in accordance with the marine plan, unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise and applicants should take into account the plan when making their applications. All applicants applying for a band 2 or 3 licence should demonstrate their proposed activities are in line with the marine plan. A template for this can be requested by contacting

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:


  • 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


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

Welsh Government consultees

  • Marine Enforcement Officers
  • Marine and Fisheries Division
  • 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.

There is a 10 working day period in which requests for further information from the marine licensing team must be addressed. Beyond this, your application will be returned and refunded.

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.

Find a full list of our service levels for other marine licensing services

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 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. Find 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. Read more about European Protected Species (EPS).

Applying to grow or harvest aquaculture (seaweed and shellfish)

You need a licence to commercially grow or harvest seaweed.

Some activities to commercially harvest or grow shellfish are exempt and may not need a marine licence. Find out what what activities may be exempt from a marine licence.

What to include in the licence application

The licence application must include a location plan, descriptive drawings and any supporting environmental assessments. Including:

  • Navigational Risk Assessment (NRA) - contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Trinity House to help with this.
  • Biosecurity plan
  • Marine Mammal Entanglement protocol - contact our pre application advice service to help with this.
  • Details of any protected site features – contact our pre application advice service to help with this.
  • Evidence that you have consulted with the relevant organisations to prepare your application.

All applications (apart from Band 1 low risk activity applications) must also be accompanied by a Water Framework Directive (WFD) assessment.

We cannot process the application until all necessary supporting information has been received.

If the supporting information is not deemed sufficient, we will request further information or return the application until all information is provided.

After your application has been submitted

We may need to request more information or additional assessments so that we can understand the likely impacts of the proposed activities. 

If the proposed activity has a potential to significantly affect the environment, we may request that a the an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be carried out before a licence decision is made.

The Aquaculture Regulatory Toolbox for Wales for more information that might help your application.

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