MARINE (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010, PART 4 MARINE
General Guidance for
1. Introduction 1
2. Purpose 1
3. Applying 1-2
4. Sediment Removal & Scientific Surveys 2-3
5. Advertising 3
6. Exemptions 3
7. Submitting an Application 4
8. Licence Fees 4-5
9. Payment 5
10. The Consultation Process 6
11. Consideration of an Application 6
12. Licence Validity 7
13. Redress Mechanisms 7
14. Site Visit 7
15. Associated Legislation 8
16. The Crown Estate 8
17. Privacy Statement 8-9
18. Public Register 9
19. Access to the Public Register 9
Under Section 20(1) of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, a marine licence from Scottish Ministers is
required if any person intends to do any of the following from a vehicle, vessel and other structure in
the Scottish marine area (i.e. from Mean High Water Springs out to 12 nautical miles (nm)):
deposit any substance or object in the sea or on or under the seabed
construct, alter or improve works on or over the sea or on or under the seabed
remove substances or objects from the seabed
dredging (including plough, agitation, side-casting and water injection dredging)
deposit and/or use explosives
incinerate substances or objects
Scottish Ministers will consider the impact that a proposal will have on the local habitat (see 3.1),
and any potential obstructions or dangers to navigation which may arise, either while the works are
being carried out or once they have been completed, caused by the proposal. These impacts will be
determined by Scottish Ministers after consulting with relevant experts. The Marine Scotland
Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT), based at the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen, act on behalf
of Scottish Ministers in processing and assessing applications.
The Marine Licensing regime allows regulation of the deposit and removal of substances or objects
in the sea within United Kingdom waters adjacent to Scotland. Works must only be undertaken in
accordance with the conditions laid down in a licence.
Marine Licences can be complementary to other approvals required for the undertaking of activities
in the marine environment. The issue of a Marine Licence does not abrogate an applicant’s
responsibility to obtain the approval of other relevant parties.
Licensable marine activities include:
Dredging of minerals
All capital dredging activity
Disposal of dredgings at sea
Placement/use of explosives
Removal of sediment (e.g. sampling)
Installation of marine farm equipment
Installation of marine renewable devices
Installation of moorings, buoys, pontoons
Discharge of sea lice treatments from wellboats
Incineration of waste generated on board a vessel or other facility
Removal of substances/objects from the seabed by means of a vessel or similar
Standalone maintenance dredging by means of water injection, agitation, plough, side-
The main types of applications/licences are:
Dredging & Sea Disposal
Marine Renewable Energy Projects
Moorings & Marine Fish and Shellfish Farms
Discharge of treatment agents (i.e. wellboat)
Sampling & Instrument Deployments
Persons considering any of the above types of operation, or wishing further information about
whether or not the proposed activity/project is licensable, are advised to contact MS-LOT to discuss
PO Box 101
375 Victoria Road
Tel: +44 (0)1224 295579
MS-LOT aims to process the majority of application types in approximately eight weeks (from
application submission to final licence issue). This is required to allow adequate time for expert
advice to be received and for any objections to be made known. It should be noted however, that
this turnaround time applies to straightforward cases where there are no objections or other
outstanding issues to be resolved. If objections are made, or if there are any other issues to be
dealt with, then the determination period may be longer.
You should therefore apply for consent at least eight weeks before a project start date. For
complex or potentially contentious projects you should allow longer for an application to be
4. Sediment Removal & Scientific Instrument Deployments
Prior to a licence application being submitted to MS-LOT, many projects require sampling (i.e. the
removal of sediment for sampling purposes) and/or scientific instrument deployments to take place
in order to provide supporting information. For example, before capital dredging and sea disposal
operations can be licensed, sampling and chemical analysis is required in order to ascertain the
suitability of the material for disposal at sea. Similarly, marine renewable energy projects often
require the collection of tidal current data or sampling to gain information about benthic species
within the potential area of development.
Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, a licence is
required to use a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, marine structure or floating container to remove
substances or objects from the seabed. This includes the removal of small quantities of sediment
from the seabed as part of scientific and/or investigative surveys. Such small-scale sediment
removal applications will normally be considered in 28 days.
Scientific instrument deployments have the potential to cause an obstruction or danger to
navigation, or have significant effects on European sites (within the meaning of either
regulation 10(1) of the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994, and/or European
offshore marine sites within the meaning of regulation 15 of the Offshore Marine Conservation
(Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 2007), Ramsar sites or Marine Protected Areas. As a result,
such activities may require to be licensed. In order for MS-LOT to determine whether or not a
licence is required, an application for instrument deployments must be submitted to Marine
Scotland who will undertake suitable consultation, after which it can be confirmed whether or not
the activity is licensable. As with sediment removal, applications for scientific instrument
deployments will normally be considered in 28 days.
Should you wish to discuss potential sampling or survey work, or the requirement for a licence,
please contact MS-LOT. Contact details can be found in section 3 “Applying”.
The majority of applications for marine licences under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2011 or Marine
and Coastal Access Act 2009 will require to be advertised. The purpose of this is to inform local
individuals, groups and organisations that an application to carry on a licensable marine activity has
Once the details of the proposal have been finalised, an application should be submitted to MS-
LOT. The application will then be reviewed and once it has been confirmed that the details are
correct, MS-LOT will provide applicants with an advert template. Advertising will not be required if
the proposal has already been advertised under another consenting regime (e.g. planning).
The advert must run for a period of one week in a newspaper local to where the works are to be
carried out. The advert should not be run more than once (unless instructed) and should not be
placed in a free paper. Plans of the proposals must be left in a building local to the works (e.g. post
office or library) so that they can be viewed by interested parties.
From the date of publication, members of the public will have 28 days to make any concerns or
objections known to MS-LOT.
Please be aware that licence applications will not be progressed (i.e. put out to consultation) until
MS-LOT has received either a copy of the placed advert or confirmation from the publication of the
date the advert will be run. Once the advert has been publicised, a copy should be provided to MS-
LOT. Either the paper itself or scanned copies are acceptable, providing they show the advert, the
date and the name of the paper.
Certain operations are exempted from Marine Licensing. If you have reason to believe that your
activity may be exempt, please refer to The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish
Inshore Region) Order 2011 or The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish offshore
Region) Order 2011, and then provide the details of the project to MS-LOT for consideration.
7. Submitting an Application
Applications can be submitted one of two ways:
o Electronic submissions: a copy of the application form and accompanying documents
should be e-mailed to MS.MarineLicensing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk in pdf format.
o Non-electronic submissions: One copy of the completed, signed application form and
any supporting documents (e.g. analytical data, environmental assessment, location
plan etc) should be sent to MS at the postal address below.
Please note that if any of the material submitted in support of the application is protected by
copyright, you will be required to include additional original copies of that material to facilitate MS-
8. Licence Fees
Licence fees recover average costs incurred during the licensing process. However, if it is
necessary for Marine Scotland to carry out an investigation, examination or test, undertaken to
enable determination of an application, applicants may be required to pay a fee towards such costs.
Fees vary according to the type of licence being applied for and the scale of the proposed works.
Please see the tables below for details and note that all prices give are in pounds Sterling (£).
General Licensable Activities
(incl. construction works, removal operations, scientific instrument deployments, placement & use of
explosives, dredging activity with no associated sea disposal etc)
Cost of Project Licence Fee
≤ £2,500 50
> £2,500 - ≤ £5,000 150
> £5,000 - ≤ £50,000 600
> £50,000 - ≤ £2 million 2,000
> £2 million - ≤ £5 million 4,000
> £5 million - ≤ £20 million 12,000
> £20 million - ≤ £50 million 20,000
> £50 million 30,000
Sea Disposal of Maintenance Dredgings:
Disposal Weight (tons) 1 Year Licence 2 Year Licence 3 Year Licence Fee p.a. for years
≤ 10,000 1,400 2,450 3,500 1,050
> 10,000 - ≤ 100,000 2,800 4,900 7,000 2,100
> 100,000 - ≤ 300,000 5,600 9,800 14,000 4,200
>300,000 9,400 16,450 23,500 7,050
Sea Disposal of Capital Dredgings:
Disposal Weight (tons) 1 Year Licence 2 Year Licence 3 Year Licence Fee p.a. for years
≤ 10,000 1,750 3,500 5,250 1,750
> 10,000 - ≤ 100,000 3,500 6,125 8,750 2,625
> 100,000 - ≤ 300,000 7,000 12,250 17,500 5,250
> 300,000 11,750 20,562 29,374 8,812
> 300,000 related to construction of a renewable energy project: 25,000 (no 2nd or 3rd year installments)
Moorings - £50
Wellboats - £1400 for the first site within a management area and £100 per site
Mineral Dredging - £ 29,500
Sediment removal – in harbour: £50
– outwith a harbour: £150
Offshore oil & gas deposits
Outside controlled waters (i.e. 3nm), these activities must be charged under FEPA fee structure and
will therefore cost £1045.
The breakdown of licence fees is as follows:
Licence assessment and determination:
It should be noted however that should an application be unsuccessful (i.e. be rejected), the
enforcement part of the fee will be returned to the applicant.
Payments can currently be made in the following ways:
Cheques: should be made payable to 'The Scottish Government' and marked ‘A/C Payee Only’.
They should be posted to MS-LOT at the Marine Laboratory (address below). A cover note should
be included with the cheque if it is being submitted separately from an application. The cover note
should detail either the file reference number (FKB/) if available, or give an identifiable description
of the works it is connected with.
Invoice: these will be issued by the MS finance department in Aberdeen and are necessary for all
methods of payment other than cheque in order to ensure that payments are accounted for. Your
invoice will be accompanied by details of the possible payment options, these include BACS
transfers and debit card payments. Please bear in mind that if you require a purchase order number
to be supplied with your invoice, this should be submitted to MS-LOT with the application.
10. The Consultation Process
On receipt of a completed application, a check of the application form will be carried out to ensure
that the form is completed correctly and that all relevant information is included with the application.
Any discrepancies or omissions will be dealt with by contacting the applicant by telephone or e-mail.
However, an application form may have to be returned to the applicant if the matter can not be dealt
with using one of the aforementioned methods.
Once an application form has been checked and accepted, a written acknowledgement will be sent
to the applicant, which will also include any further instructions to be carried out as part of the
consent process (e.g. advertising).
MS-LOT will then begin a 4 week consultation period. If a shorter period for consideration of the
application is unavoidable, please give a full explanation in the covering letter/e-mail submitted with
the application. In such situations, MS-LOT will attempt to accommodate these requests where
The consultation involves a range of bodies, including a number of statutory consultees:
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB)
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
If the application falls within a harbour area, the local harbour/port authority and the local authority
planning department will be consulted as necessary.
If the application falls within, or is close to, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) installation, officials will
consult with the relevant local MOD contact.
Please note that tacit authorisation as referred to in the EU Services Directive does not apply
to Marine Licence applications.
11. Consideration of an Application
When considering applications, MS-LOT take full account of the expert advice received from the
consultants listed in this guidance and consider any other comments or objections received from
members of the public, local interest groups or organisations.
If an objection is received relating to navigational safety or the environment, the applicant will be
sent a copy to comment on and/or action as appropriate. The onus is on the applicant to discuss
and resolve any objections with the objector and if possible, to agree a workable solution. Any such
solution must not compromise navigational safety or have a detrimental effect on the local
environment. If necessary, MS-LOT will ask the relevant consultant(s) to reconsider any advice
given if revisions are subsequently made to the proposal.
The final decision on whether to issue consent or not lies with MS-LOT. The decision will be based
on the facts available, the advice received from the relevant experts and the validity of any
12. Licence Validity
Marine Licences are time limited from the issue of the consent:
Type of Licence Validity Period
Dredging and Sea Disposal ≤ 3 years
General Construction ≤ 3 years
Renewables ≤ 3 years
Moorings/Fish Farms 6 years
Offshore Deposits 1 year
Wellboats ≤ 3 years
You can also apply for a revision of an existing consent. In the case of a change of ownership (e.g.
mooring or fish farm), confirmation in writing from the original consent holder or their authorised
agents will be required as proof that the consent can be changed. To apply for a revised licence
please contact MS-LOT in writing.
Marine construction licences only cover the construction period, as a result, the licence does not
need to be renewed every year.
13. Redress Mechanisms
Under schedule 3 of the Marine Licensing Appeals (Scotland) Regulations 2011, both applicants
and licensees have the right to appeal to the sheriff against a licensing decision taken by the
Scottish Ministers under section section 29(1) of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.
On determining an appeal, the sheriff may:
(a) dismiss the appeal; or
(b) allow the appeal and quash the decision in whole or in part.
Where a decision is quashed, the sheriff may direct the Scottish Ministers to either grant a marine
licence; or grant a marine licence on such terms or subject to such conditions as the sheriff may
14. Site Visit
MS-LOT staff and/or their representatives may visit the site outlined in the application, if it is felt
necessary to check on or expedite the consent application and may periodically visit the site
following the issue of the licence, to ensure that the licence conditions are being adhered to.
15. Associated Legislation
Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994
When considering whether to grant a Marine Licence, MS-LOT has a duty under regulation 48 of the
Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994 in relation to European sites, to make an
appropriate assessment of the implications for the site, in view of that site's conservation objectives. It
is therefore necessary to determine whether:
the proposal is likely to have significant effect on the site either individually or in
combination with other plans or projects; and,
the proposal outlined in the application is directly connected with or necessary to site
management for conservation.
Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 and The Marine Works (EIA)
(Amendment) Regulations 2011
From 24 June 2007 it is also necessary to assess applications under the Marine Works
(Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 where the application relates to a regulated
activity. Depending on the type and scale of the works the applicant may be required to produce an
Environmental Statement in support of their application.
Town and Country Planning (Marine Fish Farming) (Scotland) Regulations 2007
From 1 April 2007 new fish farms and modifications to existing fish farms will be subject to local
authority planning control whilst planning permission for the operation of existing farms is granted
by the Scottish Ministers under provisions contained in section 31A of the Town and Country
Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
16. The Crown Estate
The entire seabed and around half of the foreshore around the Scottish Coast is owned by the
Crown and is administered by the Crown Estate Commissioners in terms of the Crown Estate Act
1961. Consent for the use of the foreshore and seabed within Crown ownership must be sought
from the Crown Estate Commissioners. Navigation in coastal waters is deemed to be a public right.
This includes the casting of an anchor while in the course of navigation and as part of an onward
journey. However, the laying of a mooring, or other equipment, to hold a vessel or other structure,
such as a fish farm, requires Crown Estate consent, usually in the form of a lease.
Rental is charged for both private and commercial use of Crown foreshore and seabed. More
information on the Crown Estate can be found on their website at: www.thecrownestate.co.uk
17. Privacy Statement
MS-LOT provides a central facility for the processing and administration of Marine Licences and
applications. As required by the legislation referred to below, a public register (database) is
maintained of all applications received and all licences issued. This data may be made available to
various business areas within the Scottish Government. It will also be used during the processing
and administration of the application to which it relates, including consultation with such bodies that
MS-LOT considers may have an interest. The data will also be made available in response to
requests made by any person who asks to see information on any particular licence in accordance
with Freedom of Information legislation.
Additionally, MS-LOT may contact or be contacted by Competent Authorities in other EU member
states for the purpose of sharing information. This may be necessary in order to ensure that either
an applicant, or information provided by an applicant is authentic. Under the EU Services Directive,
the Competent Authority receiving such a request is legally obliged to respond within the deadline
set by the authority making the request.
18. Public Register
Section 54 of the Marine (Scotland) Act requires that the public register contains “prescribed
particulars“ including information supplied as part of a licence application.
If, in your opinion, placing any or all of the details from your application (and any subsequent
licence) on the Register would be contrary to the interests of national security or liable to prejudice
to an unreasonable degree your or some other person's commercial interests, please indicate this
on the application form and provide full justification.
If your case for withholding this information is accepted, an entry will be made on the Public
Register to the effect that application and/or licence details have been withheld and on what basis.
If this question is not answered, it will be assumed that there is no reason to withhold the
information from the Public Register.
The decision to support withholding information from the Register will be reviewed by MS-LOT after
a minimum of four years from the date of the decision. However, it will be possible for licensees to
apply for continued exclusion from the register, although the final decision rests with MS-LOT.
19. Access to Public Register
As part of the conditions of a Marine Licence, a return detailing the deposits/removals made under
the authority of a licence must be submitted within 28 days of completion of works or within 28 days
of the expiry of the licence (whichever comes first). This information is held on the Public Register.
Should you wish to be provided with information from the public register, please contact MS-LOT
between 08:30am – 4pm (Monday to Friday) with the details of your request.