Marine licensing low risk activities (band 1)
NRW Permitting Service considers all applications for activities in the marine environment which require a marine licence. The range of activities which require a licence is very broad, from very large complex works to smaller, low risk works. To make sure that applications are treated in a proportionate way, marine licence applications are designated as Band 1, Band 2, or Band 3 activities. This guidance addresses Band 1 activities, which are considered low impact or low risk activities.
The guidance first addresses what the requirements are for activities to be considered as Band 1 applications, and secondly explains circumstances under which an additional method statement to describe the activity would be required. A method statement is required for certain types of activity which may have the potential to be higher risk, and for activities proposed near to certain sensitive habitats and species.
General ‘low risk’ criteria
To qualify as a Band 1 application, the activity should be low potential impact, and low risk. To qualify as low risk, the activity will not:
- have a negative impact on protected or sensitive areas, species or resources
- occur in an area used for military defence purposes
- occur in an area hosting cables or pipelines
- generate unacceptable levels of noise
- cause detrimental effects in combination with other activities
- have a significant impact on the environment
- pose a navigational hazard or a danger to others
It will have permission from the local harbour authority (if the activity is within a harbour authority limits).
It must also be an eligible activity.
Activities that are occurring in or near protected or sensitive areas or resources may require additional documentation to demonstrate that the project will not have a negative impact on those features (see Sensitive Areas).
Under The Marine Licensing (Application Fees) (Wales) Regulations 2017, the following activities are eligible to be considered as Band 1 activities:
(a) repair or replacement of bolts, flaps valves, decking on a pier or pontoon;
(b) removal of marine growth and guano from any building or structure or any part thereof;
(c) the installation of ladders at any building or structure;
(d) the deposit and subsequent removal of posts for the purposes of marking channels, shallow water areas, outfalls and groynes;
(e) the deposit and subsequent removal of marker buoys;
(f) removal of discrete pieces of debris associated with construction; demolition, damage or disrepair of a building or structure using vehicles or vessel;
(g) The removal of litter using a vehicle or vessel;
(h) any activity of a similar minor nature.
The specific activities listed in the regulations (a-g above) will always be classed as eligible for Band 1 licence application. However, granting of such a licence is not automatic. NRW Permitting Service are still required to consider the appropriateness of the activity before determining the licence application.
In addition to the specific activities listed above, The Marine Licensing (Application Fees) (Wales) Regulations 2017 refers to ‘any activity of a similar minor nature’. The suitability of other activities is dependent on the nature and scale of the activity, and the environmental sensitivity of the area in which the activity will take place. A more comprehensive list of activities that may be considered under a Band 1 licence application includes the following:
Minor construction and repairs
- Scaffolding/access towers to facilitate the maintenance of existing structures. Note - any licence or exemption requirements for the maintenance activity must also be considered.
- Minor maintenance including repairing, replacing or reasonably improving within the original design envelope, bolts, flaps, valves, cathodic protection, access covers, grills, joints, decking on a pier or pontoon, health and safety equipment or other ancillary equipment attached to existing structures. Note - This does not include fundamental alterations to the use of a structure. Repairs must be within the existing boundaries of the structure or assets being maintained.
- Replacement of single pile of the same diameter or less, using non-percussive piling methodology. Note - Only one Band 1 licence may be used to replace a single pile at the same location per year. Piles to be replaced should be small piles, e.g. for pontoons etc. Band 1 activities do not include the replacement of larger diameter piles. Due to the complexities in assessing the impacts of marine noise, percussive piling cannot be considered as a Band 1 activity.
- Replacing render or concrete, including resurfacing slipways. Note - repair to coast protection structures, such as sea walls cannot be considered a band 1 activity.
- Sand or grit blasting.
- Removal of marine growth and/or guano from structures and assets other than vessels.
- Installation of ladders.
- Deposit and subsequent removal of posts for the purpose of marking channels, shallow water areas, the end of outfalls, groynes and similar.
- Deposit and subsequent removal of marker buoys.
- The removal of discrete minor objects from the surface of the intertidal or seabed using vehicles or vessels. ‘Minor objects’ may include poles, girders, discrete pieces of debris from recently completed construction or demolition, or the degradation of a structure, to recover sections of the broken structure. Note – removal of discrete objects only includes items on the seabed surface, not material buried or partially buried.
- The removal of litter using a vehicle or vessel, including litter collected by hand but subsequently stored on the beach for removal by a vehicle or vessel.
- Boreholes. Note – due to the nature of borehole works, all borehole applications must be accompanied by a method statement, as described in the ‘Sensitive Areas’ section of this document.
- Sediment (grab) samples where the total sample volume across all samples is no more than 4 cubic metres. The density of grab samples should not exceed 50 samples within any one hectare.
Beach management activities
- Beach re-profiling - the movement of beach material cross-shore up or down the beach.
- Beach recycling – the movement of beach material along the beach from areas of accretion to areas of erosion within the beach or associated sediment system.
- Replacing or returning wind-blown sand to the beach, where that sand originated on the beach.
- Clearance/removal of beach material in and around outfalls to aid drainage.
All beach management activity applications must be accompanied by a method statement.
Beach replenishment is NOT eligible for Band 1 licence applications.
Beach replenishment is defined as the addition of beach material from sources not connected with the sediment system of the beach to replace material permanently lost from the system. Applications for beach management activities will only be considered where an ongoing beach profile is being maintained. Applications must be accompanied by evidence that the historical profile is being maintained.
The activities listed above are intended as a guide. If the scale of the proposed activities are particularly large, or in particularly sensitive areas, NRW Permitting Service may determine that the application is not suitable for consideration as a Band 1 activity. There may be additional activities not listed above that NRW Permitting Service may consider to be eligible as Band 1 activities.
If you wish to conduct multiple activities, or the same activity multiple times, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice on whether the activities can be considered as a Band 1 activity.
If you are unsure if your activity should be classified as a Band 1 application, please contact email@example.com for further advice. NRW Permitting Service recommend confirming that activities are low risk prior to application, to avoid unnecessary delays.
If you make an application for a Band 1 Marine Licence and NRW Permitting Service determine that the activity is not eligible, the application and fee will be returned with a request to resubmit the application as a Band 2 or 3 activity. NRW Permitting Service may charge an administration fee on refunds. If the general ‘low risk’ qualification requirements cannot be met, the application must be submitted as a Band 2 or 3 application.
Pre-engagement with other organisations
Local Archaeological Trust or Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) - For a Band 1 application for bore holes, grab samples or beach management, approval from the Local Archaeological Trust (onshore) or Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) (off shore) will be required.
When the applicant contacts the Marine Licensing Team to determine if an activity qualifies for Band 1 and method statement requirements, the Marine Licensing Team will seek advice from the local Archaeological Trust to determine that there are no archaeological assets in the area that could be disturbed/destroyed by the works. For offshore activities, the RCAHMW will be contacted. The service level for these organisations to respond to this consultation is 10 working days and this should therefore be factored into your timescales. If advice suggests archaeological features may be adversely affected, you can either resolve the issue with the above organisations prior to submission of a Band 1 application or submit a Band 2 application.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency at firstname.lastname@example.org and Trinity House at email@example.com – Contact the MCA and Trinity House to confirm if your activity is likely to have an impact on the safety of others at sea. You MUST have confirmation from BOTH bodies that your proposed works will not pose a risk to others prior to application.
Please include the following information in your correspondence with the MCA:
- Location of the works, preferably on a nautical chart graphic, or a satellite/map image if available.
- Whether the works are within a Statutory Harbour Authority jurisdiction; applicants should check with the local harbour/marina if there is one. If yes, have they been contacted?
- The duration of the works, and if these will be conducted at night when visibility is low.
- A brief description of the activities, any scaffolding or heavy equipment used, whether works will take place from land or the water, and if any vessels are used.
- Any envisaged impacts on the safety of navigation, such as closing off a waterway or reducing overhead clearance under a bridge, and what risk mitigation measures the applicant proposes to put in place.
Cases where a method statement is required - special activities and sensitive areas
Boreholes and replacement piles
Due to the potential noise disturbance caused by these activities, all Band 1 applications for boreholes or replacing piles must be accompanied by a method statement. For these activities, the number of boreholes/ pile diameter, predicted source noise levels the exact proposed location and proposed schedule must be included in the method statement to allow the noise impact of the works to be assessed in combination with other potential works in the vicinity.
All beach management activity must be accompanied by a method statement. The method statement must clearly state the volume/tonnage of material anticipated to be moved, the locations of where material will be moved to and from, the vehicle movement routes and the proposed timescales of the activity.
Special consideration should be made to cover the following habitats (where appropriate) in your method statement:
- Blue mussel beds (Mytilis edulis)
- Sabellaria alveolata reefs
- Sheltered muddy gravels
- Estuarine rocky habitats
- Intertidal boulder communities
- Intertidal mudflats
Find the locations of sensitive habitats where a method statement is required in the Wales environmental information map.
Some of the habitats are within designated protected areas like Special Areas of Conservation). Others are sensitive habitats that may be found across Wales, both within and outside protected areas.
The habitats are considered to be sensitive to all potential activities, including accessing activity sites. Areas sensitive to disturbance of birds may only be sensitive at specific times of the year or day.
The map is for illustration only. Applicants should contact the Permitting Service to confirm if the activity is within a sensitive area prior to application.
Habitats which are considered sensitive to any Band 1 activity at any location:
- Egg wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) on variable salinity rock
- Tideswept egg wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) communities
- Maerl beds
- Horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) beds
- Oyster (Ostrea edulis) beds
- Seagrass beds
- Sea-pen and other burrowing megafauna communities
- Peat and clay exposures
Habitats which are considered sensitive when they are a designated feature of a Special Area of Conservation are:
- Large shallow inlets and bays
- Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
- Coastal lagoons
- Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae)
- Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand
The following intertidal habitats are also considered sensitive to access by multiple vehicles, or on multiple occasions:
- Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) beds
- Honeycomb worm (Sabellaria alveolata) reefs
- Intertidal mudflats
- Intertidal underboulder communities
- Oyster (Ostrea edulis) beds
- Peat and clay exposures
- Seagrass beds
- Sheltered muddy gravels
Areas which are considered sensitive within a Special Protection Area (SPA) are:
- Carmarthen Bay SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- Burry Inlet SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- Liverpool Bay SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- Severn Estuary SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- Dee Estuary SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- Lavan Sands, Conwy Bay SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- North Cardigan Bay SPA from October to February (inclusive)
- Aberdaron Coast and Bardsey Island SPA from May to July for any work to take place from 6pm to midnight
- Grassholm SPA from March to July (inclusive)
- Skokholm and Skomer SPA (within 4km of the coast) from May to July (inclusive)
How to access data on sensitive areas
GIS layers containing a summary of all Band 1 sensitive habitats and SPA areas can be accessed on request. To open this data, you will need an appropriate GIS viewer (e.g. ArcGIS). At present, the data cannot be viewed directly online. To determine if your activity is within a sensitive area, please contact the Marine Licensing Team (firstname.lastname@example.org), including the grid reference or latitude/longitude and a brief description of the proposed activity.
What do if your activity is within a sensitive area
If your activity is within a sensitive area, but is still within the criteria to be classified as a Band 1 activity, your application must be accompanied by a method statement (usually 1-2 pages A4). This requirement applies to all activities to be conducted within a sensitive area, and also to any activities where the access route to the proposed area falls within a sensitive area. This method statement must describe the works to be undertaken and any vehicle movements required to access the work site. Relevant mitigation activities should also be recorded in the method statement.
This method statement will be used by NRW Permitting Service (and NRW Technical Experts where required) to determine if the activity is acceptable in the proposed area and if the application activity can remain in Band 1.
Fees and application process
Band 1 licence applications are charged at £600 per application, and are intended to be used for low impact activities (see eligible activities). Band 1 applications do not need to be advertised in a local newspaper.
Band 1 licences can be issued for a maximum duration of 12 months. Where a licence is required for a longer period of time a band 2 application will be required.
Applications for Band 1 activities will go through a shortened and simplified process, compared to applications in the other bands. For applications which meet the Band 1 criteria, the usual consultation stage is replaced with standard conditions.
Although the licensing process for Band 1 activities is shorter and more streamlined, an application for a Band 1 activity is not granted automatically; NRW permitting service will assess the suitability of the project to determine that all criteria are met.
The issuing of any marine licence does not absolve the applicant/Licence Holder from complying with all relevant legislation or applying for any other consents or permits that may be required, including permission from the relevant land-owner.
Frequently asked questions
What should I do prior to submission?
You should contact the following organisations to ensure that your activities will not have any negative impacts on the environment, navigation, or legitimate uses of the sea:
- To determine if your activity is within a sensitive area, please contact the Marine Licensing Team (email@example.com), including the grid reference or latitude/longitude and a brief description of the proposed activity.
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency firstname.lastname@example.org – The MCA will confirm if your activity is likely to have an impact on the safety of others at sea. You MUST have confirmation from the MCA that your proposed works will not pose a risk to others prior to application.
- For removal and beach management activities email evidence from the Local Archaeological Trust or Royal commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) that no archaeological features will be adversely affected MUST be submitted with your application. (NB, the initial request to these two organisations will come from NRW).
- The Crown Estate as a land owner will be able to tell you if you require a permission form them.
What do I need to submit?
For Band 1 activities, please complete and submit a Band 1 Marine Licence Application Form.
Where the activity is within a sensitive area, or includes the replacement of a pile, boreholes or beach management activity, please include a 1-2 page Method Statement detailing the exact activities to be conducted, and any vehicle movements required.
You should also submit documentation to demonstrate that the MCA has been contacted and include their response – email confirmation will suffice.
The appropriate Band 1 fee should be sent with the application.
When do I need to submit a Method Statement, and to whom?
If your proposed activity is within a sensitive area, a method statement is required. Any applications for boreholes or the replacement of piles will require a method statement to address any potential noise impacts.
Where required, method statements must be submitted with the Band 1 licence application.
What happens if the method statement is not accepted?
NRW Permitting Service must establish that the activity will not cause adverse impacts to the environment. If the method statement does not sufficiently demonstrate that the activity will not cause adverse impacts, the licence application cannot be approved. In this instance NRW Permitting Service will ask applicants to resubmit the method statement to address specific issues. If the resubmitted method statement does not address the highlighted issues, the application will be refused.
How long will it take to determine a Band 1 licence application?
Band 1 licences will normally be determined within 6 weeks of submission of all the required information. Activities which have been determined at the pre-application stage not to require a method statement will normally be determined within 3 weeks.
How do I find more information about Band 1 activities?
If the information you require is not contained in this guidance, please contact the Marine Licensing Team (email@example.com).