As far as possible there will be one point of contact for licensing within the marine environment through Marine Scotland.
Simplification of Marine Licensing
The main change to the marine licensing system is through the consolidation of two separate existing Acts: one concerned with safe navigation and one for putting things in the sea. A single consent licence will replace these.
The Bill also transfers the licensing authority functions for certain wildlife licences to Scottish Ministers. This will deliver a more streamlined application process for these licences.
The Bill provides a process for applications for consent under the Electricity Act 1989, and for a new Marine Bill licence for developments such as renewable energy projects, to be considered together.
Figure 7 illustrates the existing licensing requirements for renewable projects while Figure 8 illustrates the streamlined licensing requirements.
Marine Fish Farming
The Bill provides local authorities with an ability to give up the development consenting power for marine fish farming. In these circumstances fish farming will then become a licensable activity.
FIGURE 7. Current process to obtain consents for renewables in Scotland.
FIGURE 8. Proposed process to obtain consents for renewables in scotland as a result of marine bill change.
One area in which licensing will expand is in the area of dredging. The non-excavation forms of dredging, i.e. water cutting, plough dredging or agitation dredging disturb the sea bed and
re-suspend sediment in the water column, which can affect species that rely on good water quality, e.g. adjacent shellfish beds. Stakeholders had identified this as an area which should be added to the existing licensing regime.
Exemptions from Licensing
The Bill will provide for exemptions from the licensing requirements. Such exemptions are likely to include statutory maintenance dredging using established techniques. The Bill also allows the Scottish Ministers to make Regulations that will allow the registration instead of licensing of activities below a specified threshold of environmental impact.
Marine Licence Enforcement
The majority of marine activities are carried out in a responsible way but the right tools need to be available to deal with those operating without a licence or posing a risk to the environment, human health, or interfering with legitimate uses of the sea.
The Bill will modernise the enforcement powers to introduce a wider range of tools for enforcement including advice, statutory notices and monetary penalties through to prosecution. The changes will ensure that all offences can be addressed in a proportionate, flexible way and make operators responsible for any damage they cause.
Marine Licensing for all of Scotland's Seas
Under the UK Marine and Coastal Access Bill the Scottish Ministers are the licensing and enforcement authority for most activities in the Scottish offshore region from 12-200 nm. As the licensing arrangements are similar in the Scottish Marine Bill this will allow an integrated approach to licensing and enforcement not only within the Scottish marine area but across the UK.