What are Harbour Revision and Empowerment Orders?

Statutory Harbour Authorities must conduct themselves in accordance with the powers they are granted by statute.  If they wish to amend their existing powers and / or introduce new powers they need to do so by making an application to amend existing harbour legislation or to introduce new harbour legislation.  This can be done by making an application for a harbour revision or harbour empowerment order under the Harbours Act 1964. 

In addition to harbour authorities other third parties such as ferry companies, fishing fleets, fishing markets and merchants, shore-side businesses and other harbour users may be able to apply for harbour revision or harbour empowerment orders in accordance with sections 14 or 16 of the Harbours Act 1964 (see below). Since 1 April 2010 all new applications for harbour revision and empowerment orders have been dealt with by the Marine Management Organisation ('MMO').

Harbour orders which authorise the carrying out of development works are known as 'works orders'. Those which are administrative (i.e. amending the constitution of a harbour authority or its borrowing powers) by nature are known as 'non-works orders'.  If a 'works order' is granted to carry out works then terrestrial planning permission may not be required. However a marine licence and if necessary, listed building consent is still needed.

Under the Harbours Act 1964 the MMO has the power to grant three types of Harbour Order:

1. Section 14 harbour revision orders (HROs)

Harbour authorities and person(s) having a 'substantial interest in the harbour' may apply for a s14 HRO.  The MMO can only grant the order if its purpose is one listed in Schedule 2 of the Act.  These include provisions relating to the diversion or extinguishment of public rights of way and compulsory purchase of land for the purposes of development, extension of borrowing powers and the efficient running of the harbour.  Most 'works orders' are granted under s14.

2. Section 15 and s15A harbour revision orders (HROs)

These orders are less common and relate to the reorganisation / amalgamation of harbour authorities or the varying their constitutions.  Such orders can be made by the MMO acting by its own volition.  An application from a harbour authority or person(s) having a 'substantial interest' in the harbour is not required.

3. Section 16 harbour empowerment orders (HEOs)

These orders may be applied for by any person. HEOs are used to create new powers, either for the purpose of constructing a new harbour or for the purposes of improving, maintaining or managing an existing harbour.

Our experienced team of lawyers headed by Andrew Oldland QC, is able to advise on all aspects of obtaining, opposing and implementing harbour orders,  including the interaction between 'works orders', marine licensing and terrestrial planning and environmental law (including listed building consent).  A clear understanding of these interactions is vital if authority for development works is to be secured in a time-efficient manner.