The Crown Estate owns and manages practically the entire seabed around the UK out to a distance of 12 nautical miles. Anyone who develops or operates in UK territorial waters is doing so on Crown Estate property. Because of this, you have to apply for a lease from The Crown Estate and pay rent to install and operate your farm on the seabed.
Before you apply it is recommended you contact The Crown Estate and ask for a 'conflict check' to make sure there are no other seabed interests present in your selected area.
If the seabed area is free of any conflicting developments or interests, you may apply with a Scottish fish farm application form, which can be found on The Crown Estate's website. There are guidance notes available to help you fill it in.
Lease vs Lease Option Agreement (LOA)
The Crown Estate will only grant a Lease if you can meet the criteria for awards of Lease (published in the guidance) which include having planning permission from the local authority and any other necessary statutory consents. If these haven’t been granted yet they will offer you a LOA which means you can obtain a Lease when planning permission is granted. The criteria for awarding a LOA are the same as those for a Lease with the exception of the necessary consents being in place.
With a LOA, if you apply for planning permission and don't get it, you won't be granted a lease. This means if you don't have planning permission yet, applying for a LOA is sensible as it provides reassurance that a Lease will available before you go through the expense of applying for planning permission.
If you need more information you can phone The Crown Estate using the contact details on their website, or email Scotland@thecrownestate.co.uk