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Marine licensing

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The Marine Licensing regime and how it works.

The Marine Licensing (Delegation of Functions) (Wales) Order 2013 introduced the marine licensing system which brought together and updated previous consenting regimes. The Welsh Ministers are the licensing authority for Welsh waters (out to 12 nautical miles). This system was introduced in April 2011. The operation of inshore marine licensing was delegated to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) (external link) in April 2013. The relevant legislation is the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (external link). 

Changes to marine and wildlife licensing in the Welsh offshore region

The UK Government made a commitment to devolve further powers to the Welsh Ministers following recommendations made by the Silk Commission, Silk II Report on Legislative Powers to Strengthen Wales. 

On 30 November 2017, the responsibility for protected species licensing in the Welsh offshore region, under the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, transferred to the Welsh Ministers. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) agreed to administer species licence applications in the Welsh offshore region on behalf of the Welsh Ministers until 31st March 2018, when the responsibility for the administration of applications will transfer to NRW, who will be acting on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.  

From 1st April 2018, the Welsh Ministers will be the marine licensing authority in the Welsh offshore region under the Wales Act 2017, when the administration of marine licence applications will transfer from the MMO to NRW, who will act on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.

What does this mean for you?

If you have submitted an application to the MMO prior to 1 April 2018 for a marine and/or wildlife licence, this will continue to be determined by the MMO.  Once the licence application has been determined, if there are any post licence requirements, such as monitoring or discharge of conditions, these will be considered by NRW. 

If you conduct any activities in the Welsh offshore region, please refer to The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011 for details of activities exempt from the requirement for a marine licence in Wales.

If you make an application after 1 April 2018, this will need to be made to NRW.

You can find more information about the marine licensing system on the Natural Resources Wales website (external link).

NRW Contact Details

Marine Licensing

Telephone: General Enquiries line on 0300 065 3000.

Species Licensing

Telephone: 0300 065 4974 or 0300 065 4921

Changes to Harbour Regulation for harbours in Wales

Under the Wales Act, from 1 April 2018 the Welsh Ministers will also take over responsibility for port development policy for harbours wholly in Wales apart from major trust ports. This responsibility extends to applications for Harbour Revision and Empowerment Orders, private act (‘Admiralty’) consents, applications for powers to make harbour directions and confirmation of byelaws. To help ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements, the Department for Transport (DfT), the MMO and the Welsh Government have agreed that the DfT or the MMO will be responsible for certain applications received before 1 April 2018.   

All applications received after 1 April 2018 will be handled by the Welsh Government. 

Marine licensing fees and associated Environmental Impact Assessment regime charges

Marine licensing fees and associated Environmental Impact Assessment regime charges are set by the Welsh Government and will be charged by NRW, the marine licensing authority in Wales. These fees were introduced on 1st April 2017.

Full details on the fees, charges and services offered by NRW, can be found on Natural Resources Wales’ website.

Right of appeal

Applicants have a right of appeal to the Welsh Ministers against a decision made by the licensing authority (Natural Resources Wales) under section 71 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Appeals must be made in accordance with the Marine Licensing (Appeals Against Licensing Decisions) (Wales) Regulations 2011.

A notice of appeal must be received by the Welsh Ministers within six months of the date of the decision to which the appeal relates. An appellant must send written notice of the appeal including the documents listed below to the Welsh Ministers at the following address:
  • Welsh Ministers c/o Marine Policy Branch, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ.
At the same time the appellant must send Natural Resources Wales a copy of the notice to:
  • Centre Manager, Wales Permitting Centre (Cardiff), Natural Resources Wales, Cambria House, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0TP
Phone: 0300 065 3000

On receipt of a notice of appeal, the Welsh Ministers must appoint a person to determine whether the notice is a valid notice of appeal, and if so to determine the appeal.

A notice of appeal must include:
  • the name, address (including any email address) and telephone number of the appellant and any agent acting for the appellant
  • a statement of the grounds of appeal
  • a statement as to whether the appellant wishes to have the appeal dealt with by way of written representations, a hearing or an inquiry
  • a copy of the decision to which the appeal relates
  • a copy of all documents upon which the appellant wishes to rely
  • a list of the all documents, including dates (where any document is dated), specified in bullet points d and e.
An appellant may withdraw an appeal by notifying the Welsh Ministers in writing and sending a copy of that notification to Natural Resources Wales.

If you have any queries about the delegation of marine licensing, please email us: