Cookies on our website

The Natural Resources Wales website uses cookies. By continuing to browse or by clicking “Continue,” you agree to the storing of first- and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Cookie policy.

Marine Licence Exempted Activity

Find out more detail about what activities may be exempt from requiring a marine licence

Activities

Some activities that are marine licensable may qualify as exempt and will not require a Marine Licence. These are identified in the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011. Additionally there are exemptions detailed in section 75 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

Be aware that the Marine Licencing (exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011 is only applicable for activities carried out in Wales or the Welsh inshore region.

If you intend to rely on exemption(s) you must make sure that you meet the relevant qualifying criteria and conditions. You might also need to notify us about your activities.

These activities can be split into three categories:

  1. exemptions for which no notification is required
  2. exemption which require notification to be given to us
  3. exemptions which require approval from us

Enforcement action might be taken if it is later determined that the activity, or the circumstances in which it was carried out, are not consistent with the terms of the relevant exemption.

This list is provided as a guide, should you have any concerns on the ability to satisfy an exemption you may want to consider obtaining your own legal advice.

Activities falling within Part 6 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995

Activities falling within Part 6 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (prevention of pollution) do not require a licence.

This is covered by  Article 7 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities)(Wales) Order 2011.

Safety direction under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995

Activities carried out by or on behalf of the Secretary of State in exercise of a power under Schedule 3A to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (Safety directions) do not require a licence. This also includes any persons complying with the direction of that schedule or persons avoiding interference with action taken by virtue of that schedule.

When an accident has occurred and there is a risk to safety or of pollution then a licence is not required for any action resulting from directions given by the Government to the owner, master and others in control of a ship. The Secretary of State has appointed a representative who will, in practice, normally issue these directions.

This is covered by Article 8 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities)(Wales) Order 2011.

Salvage Activities

Activities carried out in the course of a salvage operation to ensure the safety of a ship or prevent pollution do not need a licence.

This is covered by Article 9 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities)(Wales) Order 2011.

This exemption is not intended to exempt the removal of wrecks or other subjects of archaeological interest. Salvage activities in such cases are only likely to be exempt if a new risk of pollution is identified.

Fire Fighting etc

A licence is not required for the purpose of fighting, or preventing the spread of, any fire.

This is covered by Article 10 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Air accident investigation

A licence is not required for deposit or removal activities carried out to recover any substance or object as part of an investigation into an accident involving aircraft.

This is to assist speedy investigation into the causes of an accident. It does not exempt the salvage of historic aircraft.

This is covered by Article 11 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Fishing Operations

A licence is not required in respect of the following activities carried out in the course of a fishing operation:

  • the deposit of fishing gear (other than for the purpose of disposal)
  • a removal or dredging activity for the purpose of fishing or taking fish, or removing fishing gear
  • the deposit by way of return to the sea, of any fish or other object

This is covered by Article 12 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

“Fish” includes any part of a fish and also shellfish. “Fishing gear” includes gear used to fish for or take shellfish, but does not include anything used in connection with propagation or cultivation of shellfish.

There is a specific exemption Article 13 for deposit, removal or dredging activities carried out for the purpose of propagation or cultivation of shellfish.

Shellfish propagation and cultivation

A marine licence is not required for the following activities carried out in the course of propagation and cultivation of shellfish;

  • the deposit of any shellfish, trestle, cage, pole, rope or line
  • removal activity or dredging activity carried out for the purpose of moving shellfish within the sea

Conditions of this exemption:

  • the deposit is not for the purpose of disposal
  • the deposit is not for the purpose of creating, altering or maintaining an artificial reef
  • the deposit does not cause or is likely to cause obstruction or danger to navigation

We advise that you contact the local harbour authority, Trinity House (Navigation.Directorate@thls.org) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (navigationsafety@mcga.gov.uk) in order to ensure that the activity will not cause an obstruction or danger to navigation and us.

This is covered by Article 13 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Deposit of marine chemical and marine oil treatment substances etc

A licence is not required for the deposit of any marine chemical treatment substance, marine oil treatment substance or any substance used for the removing surface fouling matter from the surface of the sea or of the sea bed.

The exemption is subject to the following condition;

  • substance must be approved for this purpose by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority
  • substance must be used in accordance with any conditions to which the approval is subject
  • no deposit is made in an area of the sea of a depth of less than 20 meters or within one nautical mile of any such area, unless approval to do so has been granted by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority
  • no deposit of any marine chemical/oil treatment substance may be made below the surface of the sea, unless approval to do so has been granted by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority

This is covered by Article 14 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Deposit of equipment to control, contain or recover oil etc

A licence is not required for the deposit of any equipment intended to control, contain or recover oil, mixtures containing oil, chemicals, flotsam or algal blooms.

This is covered by Article 15 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Scientific instruments etc

In many cases a licence will not be required to deposit scientific instruments or associated equipment in connection with any scientific experiment or survey at sea (or to subsequently remove it).

A licence is not required for the deposit of reagents or tracers that have been approved by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authorities, but must be used in accordance with any conditions for which the approval is subject.

This exemption does not apply to;

  • any deposit made for the purpose of disposal,
  • any deposit that may cause or is likely to cause obstruction or danger to navigation
  • any deposit or removal that is likely to have a significant effect on a marine protected area (unless directly connected with or necessary to the management of that site)

In addition we consider the exemption does not apply to:

  • any related construction works, for example to build a structure at sea to contain scientific equipment
  • any dredging –which is considered as any activity using any device to move material from one part of the seabed to another (as defined in section 66(2) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009)

We advise that you contact the local harbour authority, Trinity House (Navigation.Directorate@thls.org) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (navigationsafety@mcga.gov.uk) in order to ensure that the activity will not cause an obstruction or danger to navigation, and us (marinelicensing@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk) in order to ensure that the deposit or removal is not likely to significantly effect a marine protected area.

When you contact us regarding the exemption please provide a description of the proposed activity including details of the proposed equipment, method, duration and location of the works.

In order to register the exemption we also ask that you provide us with confirmation from the navigational organisation listed above confirming that the works will not pose a obstruction or danger to navigation.

This is covered by Article 16 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Deposit in the course of aggregates or mineral dredging

A licence is not required to return at the site of dredging any substance or object to the sea taken during the course of aggregate or mineral dredging. Objects or substances mean items such as old munitions, litter or other bulky items. (This does not include the aggregates or minerals being dredged.) However, where it is safe for them to do so we strongly encourage vessels to return litter to the shore for recycling.

An aggregate dredger may also discharge water either by overflow returns through its scuppers or by pumping water from the hold of the vessel to drain a cargo. Dredgers do not need a licence for such discharges during such a dredging operation, on completion of dredging or on the return trip to port.

This is covered by Article 17 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Maintenance of coast protection, drainage and flood defence works

A licence is not required for an activity carried out by, or on behalf of Natural Resources Wales for maintaining coast protection works, drainage works or flood defence works. A licence is also not required for an activity carried out by or on behalf of the coast protection authority (usually the local authority) for the purpose of maintaining coastal protection works.

The exemption is subject to the condition that the activity is carried out within the existing boundaries of the works being maintained. It does not apply to any activity that consists of beach replenishment.

This is covered by Article 18 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Emergency works in response to flood or flood risk

Activities carried out by or on behalf of Natural Resources Wales for emergency works in response to any flood, or the imminent risk of flooding do not require a licence.

However approval must be granted by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority prior to the commencement of the works.

This is covered by Article 19 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Use of vehicles to remove litter or seaweed from beaches

Using a vehicle to remove litter or seaweed from a beach does not require a licence provided the activity is carried out by or on behalf of a local authority. The exemption does not apply if the activity is likely to have a significant effect on a Marine protected area unless it is directly in connection with or necessary to the management of that site.

This is covered by Article 20 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Deposit in the course of normal navigation or maintenance

A licence is not required for deposit from a vehicle, vessel, aircraft or marine structure in the normal course of navigation or maintenance. This exemption is intended to allow routine activities such as the deposit of anchors, the mandatory testing of fire-fighting equipment or propeller polishing to be carried out without the need for a licence.

This is covered by Article 21 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

This does not include deposits for the purpose of disposal.

Maintenance of harbour works

A licence is not required for the deposit, removal or works activity carried on by or on behalf of a harbour authority for the purpose of maintaining any harbour works. The exemption is subject to the condition that the activity is carried out within the existing boundaries of the works being maintained.

This is covered by Article 22 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Removal of obstruction or danger to navigation

A conservancy authority, harbour authority, lighthouse authority or a body having powers to maintain a canal or other inland navigation including a navigation in tidal waters do not need a licence to remove anything causing or likely to cause an obstruction or danger to navigation.

This is covered by Article 23 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Mooring and aids to navigation

Harbour authorities and lighthouse authorities do not need a licence to deposit or remove piled or swinging/trot moorings or aids to navigation (such as marker buoys). People carrying out such activities with the consent, required from, and granted by, a harbour authority or lighthouse authority do not need a licence either.

This is covered by Article 24 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

This exemption does not apply to the deposit or construction of pontoons.

Markers for European marine sites

A deposit made by Natural Resources Wales to place markers to indicate the existence and boundaries of EU marine conservation sites and or removal of such markers does not require a licence.

However approval must be granted by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority prior to the commencement of the works, and works must be carried out in accordance with any conditions to which the approval is subject.

This is covered by Article 25 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Launching of vessels etc

A deposit in connection with the launching of a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, marine structure or floating container does not require a licence.

This is covered by Article 26 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

"vessel” includes:

  • hovercraft
  • any other craft capable of travelling on, in, or under water, whether or not self-propelled

“marine structure” means a platform or other artificial structure at sea, other than a pipeline.

Dismantling Ships

A licence is not required for a deposit or removal activity carried out as part of dismantling a ship that is waste.

This is covered by Article 27 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Diver trails within restricted areas

A deposit or removal activity for the purpose of placing, securing or removing signage or other identifying markers for divers on wrecks protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 does not require a licence.

This is covered by Article 28 the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Activities on such wrecks require approval from Cadw under the 1973 Act. We would also advise engagement with Royal Commission of Ancient and Historic Monuments Wales (RCAHMW).

Coastguard activities – safety purposes and training

A licence is not required for an activity carried out by or on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for the purpose of securing the safety of a vessel, aircraft or marine structure, saving life or to train for such situations.

This is covered by Article 29 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Deposit and use of flares etc – safety purposes and training

A licence is not required for the deposit and use of smoke floats, distress flares or similar pyrotechnic substance or object for the purpose of securing the safety of a vessel, aircraft or marine structure, saving life or to train for such situations.

This is covered by Article 30 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Cables and pipelines – authorised emergency inspection and repair

A licence is not required for a deposit, removal or dredge activity to carry out emergency inspection or repair works to any cable or pipeline.

However approval must be granted by Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority prior to the commencement of the works.

This is covered by Article 31 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Bored tunnels

Activities associated with the construction or operation of a bored tunnel that are carried out wholly under the seabed do not need a licence.

The exemption is subject to the condition that the activity must not adversely affect the environment of Wales and the Welsh inshore region or the living resources that it supports. The exemption does not apply to any deposits carried out for disposal purposes.

The exemption does not apply to the subsequent deposit of any substance into the tunnel, such as cables and pipelines.

Written notice of the intention to carry out works must be given to Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licencing authority prior to the commencement of works.

This is covered by Article 32 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

This exemption applies to the construction or operation of the bored tunnel only and not to any associated construction or deposition activity.

Rights of foreign vessels etc under international law

A licence is not required when activities are carried out in exercise of a right under rules of international law, by or in relation to:

  • a third country vessel (a vessel which is flying the flag of, or is registered in, any state or territory (other than Gibraltar) which is not a member State, or is not a registered in a member state)
  • a warship, naval auxiliary or other vessel or aircraft owned or operated by any Nation when being used only for government non-commercial service

This exemption intends to make sure that rights under international maritime law of non-EU countries and sovereign vessels from other countries are not infringed.

This is covered by Article 33 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

Loading of a vehicle or vessel etc for incineration outside Wales and the Welsh inshore region

A licence is not required for the loading of a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, marine structure or floating container with any substance or object for incineration outside Wales and the Welsh inshore region as long as incineration is to take place within the Scottish inshore region or in the UK marine licensing area.

This is covered by Article 34 of the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011.

This is intended to remove duplication would be otherwise caused by the requirement to obtain a licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

The activity of incineration would require a licence from the relevant licencing authority.

The exemption does not apply if the destination for incineration is outside the Scottish inshore region or the UK marine licensing area.

Exemptions for Certain Dredging Activities

A marine licence is not required when dredging activity or disposal of spoil arising from that activity is carried out by or on behalf of a harbour authority and is authorised by and carried out in accordance with any local Act or Harbours Act 1964.

If the activity includes the recovery or disposal of dredged material the following conditions must also be met;

  • the dredge and disposal activity involves the relocation of sediments inside surface waters
  • the purpose of the deposit is for one of the following:
    • managing waters or waterways,
    • preventing floods
    • mitigating the effects of floods or droughts
    • land reclamation
  • it is proved to the satisfaction of Natural Resources Wales acting on behalf of the licensing authority that the sediments are not hazardous waste

This is covered by Section 75 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009).

Is there anything wrong with this page? Give us your feedback.