Marine Licensing & Coastal Planning

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA) altered the landscape of UK marine and coastal regulation when it came into force on 12 January 2010. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO), created under MCAA, has been given extended powers and taken over most of the maritime responsibilities previously exercised by government departments (including the now abolished Marine and Fisheries Agency).

In relation to marine licensing and coastal planning MCCA provides that the MMO has responsibility for:

  • Marine Planning, including the drafting and implementation of Marine Plans
  • Marine Licensing. The provisions of MCCA significantly widen the scope of activities requiring a marine licence. The number of exempt activities has also decreased.

Oil, gas and larger offshore renewable energy projects continue to be regulated by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

A marine licence is now required for activities such as the construction, alteration or improvement of any works and the removal from the seabed of any substance or object up to the spring high tide water mark (including tidal rivers).

The scope of activities encompassed is huge.  Therefore a marine licence may be required by a wide range of users including:

  • Port authorities
  • Private marina operators
  • Coastal developers
  • Ferry operators
  • Dredging companies
  • Private persons with riverside properties located on tidal rivers (i.e. boat houses, pontoons etc.)

A number of coastal development projects require both a marine licence and terrestrial planning permission.  In addition a wide range of environmental legislation affects marine development.

Care should be taken to comply with marine licensing requirements because the MMO appears more willing to prosecute to ensure compliance than terrestrial planners.

Andrew Oldland QC is widely recognised as a leading marine licensing lawyer. Our experienced team, led by Andrew, is able to advise on all aspects of marine planning and licensing and the interaction between marine licensing and terrestrial planning (including listed building consent), environmental law and harbour ‘works orders’. A clear understanding of these interactions is vital if authority for development works is to be secured in a time-efficient manner.

Recent experience

Advising and representing Clinton Devon Estates in its successful defence of corporate manslaughter and other charges before the Exeter Crown Court.

Advising two of the UK’s largest South West based fishing fleets on fishing quotas, potential licence breaches and safety at sea.

Advising many employers in respect of investigations relating to alleged health & safety breaches arising from fatalities in the work place

Advising and successfully representing a major quarry company facing prosecution by the Environment Agency relating to allegations of polluting the River Tamar

Advising the Duchy of Cornwall in respect of a harbour revision order and other marine matters.

Acting for the Wellcome Trust its acquisition of Premier Marinas.

Advising company directors on complex requirements under the Companies Acts

Advising international organisations in respect of complex anti-money laundering and sanctions issues.

Advising in relation to Judicial Review proceedings against DEFRA concerning fisheries quota allocations.

Areas of focus