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Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions aim to inform applicants on key aspects when applying for a marine licence or a section 36 consent. If your question is not covered below, please contact the team with your enquiry.

  1. Who is the licensing authority?

  2. Why do I need to apply for a licence?

  3. What other licences can I apply for?

  4. I have a FEPA/CPA licence. What do I need to do?

  5. Do I need to do anything before applying for a licence?

  6. How long does it take to obtain a marine licence or a Section 36 consent?

  7. How much does a licence or consent cost?

  8. Are there any exemptions?

  9. Do I need to consider Marine Protected Areas?

  10. Is a Habitats Regulations Appraisal required?

  11. Is an Environmental Impact Assessment required?

  12. Do I need to do screening or scoping?

  13. Is pre-application consultation required?

  14. How will people be consulted on my application?

  15. How long is my licence or consent valid for?

  16. What information is shown on the public register?

  17. Can I make changes to my licence or consent?

  18. Can MS-LOT change or remove my licence?

  19. What happens if I do not comply with my licence or consent?

Q1.Who is the licensing authority?

A.    Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT) issues licences and consents for activities in Scottish inshore and offshore waters on behalf of Scottish Ministers. The team can be contacted at ms.marinelicensing@gov.scot or by telephone on 01224 295579.

Q2.Why do I need to apply for a licence?

A.    It is a legal requirement under UK and Scottish law. The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 set out the licensable activities. You will normally require a marine licence to:

  • deposit any substance or object in the sea or on or under the seabed;
  • construct, alter or improve works on or over the sea or on or under the seabed;
  • remove substances or objects from the seabed;
  • carry out dredging;
  • deposit and/or use explosives; and
  • incinerate substances or objects.

If you are uncertain about your activity, please contact the team for further assistance.

Q3. What other licences can I apply for?

A.     MS-LOT is also responsible for issuing:

  • Section 36 consents for offshore power generation;

  • Seal licences; and

  • European Protected Species licences.

Q4. I have a FEPA/CPA licence. What do I need to do?

A.    No additional action is required. Your FEPA/CPA licence is a deemed marine licence as of 06 April 2011. Any conditions related to your FEPA/CPA licence will continue to apply.

If your FEPA/CPA licence has an end date and you wish to continue the activity after that date, you will need to apply for a new marine licence. Please note the licence processing time in Q6.

Q5. Do I need to do anything before applying for a licence?

A.    Please read the explanatory notes and use the checklist in the application form to ensure you complete your application correctly and provide all the necessary supporting information. 

Also, please refer to the National Marine Plan which provides detailed guidance and the National Marine Plan Interactive (NMPi), which is a useful source of information. 

Lastly, the application forms section of the website also has further information if you are uncertain about completing the application form or require supporting information.         

Q6. How long does it take to obtain a marine licence or a Section 36 consent?

A.    The aim is to issue marine licences within 14 weeks and Section 36 consents within 9 months. However, there are occasions when this may take longer if, for example, objections are raised, further issues arise or further information is required during the processing of your application.

Q7. How much does a licence or consent cost?

A.    The fee is dependent on the type of activity or the scale and complexity of the activity or project. More information on licence fees can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Q8. Are there any exemptions?

A.    Exemptions are set out in the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order 2011 and the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Offshore Region) Order 2011. Those activities which are exempt are usually covered by other legislation. 

If you are uncertain about your exemption status, please contact the team for further assistance.

Q9. Do I need to consider Marine Protected Areas?

A.    Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that are designated under The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 have a range of protective provisions. Public Authorities and Regulators must ensure that their own functions, or consenting/licensing decisions, do not cause a significant risk to the conservation objectives of the MPAs. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, remove, damage, or destroy any protected feature of an MPA.

The location and area of the Scottish offshore MPAs can be viewed online.

Q10. Is a Habitats Regulations Appraisal required?

A.    The Habitats Regulations require the appraisal process to be carried out on any proposed plan or project that has potential to cause likely significant effects (LSE) on Natura 2000 sites (i.e. Special Areas of Conservation [SACs] or Special Protection Areas [SPAs]).

The relevant nature conservation agency will advise MS-LOT if an assessment is required for your activity or project. If LSE are identified MS-LOT will be required to complete an appropriate assessment.

Q11. Is an Environmental Impact Assessment required?

A.    An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has to be carried out for plans or projects listed in Annex I of the EU Council Directive 2011/92/EU and those under Annex II if they are likely to have significant effects on the environment.

This EU Directive has been transposed into Scottish law. Marine projects requiring an EIA will normally be assessed under the Marine Works (EIA) Regulations 2007 (as amended in 2011 and 2015). Applications for section 36 consents will be assessed under The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2000 (as amended).

Q12. Do I need to do screening or scoping?

A.    Screening assesses your activity or project to determine if an EIA is required and whether an Environmental Statement (ES) must be submitted with your application. You can request a Screening Opinion on your activity or project by contacting the team.

If an EIA is required, you can request a Scoping Opinion. You will receive a scoping opinion report from MS-LOT detailing the information required in your Environmental Statement (ES).

These are not mandatory activities, but it is strongly recommended that you request them to ensure your activity or project is appropriately assessed and you understand what is required in your application if an EIA is needed.

Q13. Is pre-application consultation required?

A.    The Marine Licensing (Pre-application Consultation) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 prescribe the activities that are subject to pre-application consultation. They apply to applications in the Scottish inshore region, from Mean High Water Springs to 12 nautical miles. Guidance is also available on the Scottish Government website.

The applicable activities are summarised below:

  • The deposit of a submarine cable over 1,853 metres (approx. 1 nautical mile) in length and crosses the inter-tidal boundary.

  • Depositing material to reclaim over 10,000 square metres of land from the sea.

  • The construction of a bridge, causeway or walkway over 50 metres in length.

  • Construction of works (other than for a renewable energy structure) exceeding 1,000 square metres.

  • Alteration or improvement of works (other than for a renewable energy structure) which extends the area to over 1,000 square metres.

  • The construction of a renewable energy structure where the total area exceeds 10,000 square metres.

  • The alteration or improvement of a renewable energy structure which extends the structure area to over 10,000 square metres.

If you are uncertain about whether your proposed activity requires Pre-application Consultation, please contact the team for further assistance.

Q14. How will people be consulted on my application?

A.    The applicant is responsible for informing the public and others who are affected or have an interest in your activity or project. The majority of applications will require a public notice, and if this is required MS-LOT will provide a template. It is the responsibility of the applicant to publicise the public notice.

MS-LOT will carry out consultation with statutory and non-statutory consultees. These include, for example, Scottish Natural Heritage, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, RYA Scotland and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

MS-LOT will collate and assess all representations to determine the licensing decision.

Q15. How long is my licence or consent valid for?

A.    Marine licences may be issued for a period to carry out the activity or project. This may be an annual licence, a defined period (e.g. three years) or the lifetime of a project. The conditions contained in your licence remain enforceable throughout its duration.

Section 36 consents will be issued for a prescribed period (e.g. 5 years, 25 years) to carry out the activity or project.  The conditions contained in your consent remain enforceable throughout its duration.

Q16. What information is shown on the public register?

A.    MS-LOT maintains a Public Register of marine licensing information on the Marine Scotland web site. The Register must contain information set out in the Marine Licensing (Register of Licensing Information) (Scotland) Regulations 2011. This includes information on applications, licences issued and enforcement action.

Q17. Can I make changes to my licence or consent?

A.    Variations can be made to licences and consents. MS-LOT will assess the submission and determine whether the licence or consent can be amended and re-issued or if a new application is required.

Q18. Can MS-LOT change or remove my licence?

A.    MS-LOT may, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, vary, suspend or revoke a licence if it appears that:

  • there has been a breach of any of the licence provisions;

  • the applicant supplied information that was false or misleading;

  • the applicant failed to supply information that might reasonably have been expected to be supplied; or

  • new information affects the licensing decision.

Q19. What happens if I do not comply with my licence or consent?

A.    Scottish Ministers, in accordance with The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, can issue a:

  • Compliance Notice, requiring the applicant to take steps to comply with the condition(s); or a

  • Remediation Notice, requiring the applicant to take remedial or compensatory steps as specified in the notice.

Failure to comply with a notice is an offence, which could result in a fine or imprisonment.