Marine licensing and consenting: safety zones

Guidance on the declaration of safety zones for the construction, operation, maintenance, extension or decommissioning of a renewable energy installation.

Application process

Read more in the following sections: 

Making an application

Safety zone applications should be made to MD-LOT in writing.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their safety zone applications at the same time as the applications for either a section 36 consent or a marine licence.

An application for safety zones can cover different safety zone requirements for the different phases of a project within one application. An application can also be made in respect of a single installation or several installations making up an array.

It is strongly recommended that an applicant for a safety zone should communicate their intention to make an application to all interested parties at the earliest possible opportunity.

Information required in support of application

An application for a safety zone notice must describe the location of the relevant OREI and the waters in relation to which a safety zone is sought, by way of a map. The applicant must also describe, in the application, the other provisions it wants to be included in any safety zone notice.

An application for a safety zone in relation to any proposed or existing relevant OREI must also include the following information (as outlined in regulation 3 of the 2007 Regulations):

  • a description of the OREI and its proposed or existing location and dimensions (including an explanation of how much of it is (or is expected to be) visible above the water line and how much below it), supported by drawings
  • a description of how the OREI operates (or is to operate)
  • a description of the location (or proposed location) of
    • any electric line used (or proposed to be used) for the conveyance of electricity to or from the OREI; and
    • any connection to such an electric line
  • a description of the location (or proposed location) of any offshore sub-station housing connection equipment
  • where the zone is sought in respect of more than one relevant OREI, the proposed or existing distances between such installations
  • details of any navigational marking that has been specified for use with an installation of the description in question by a general lighthouse authority

An application for a safety zone in relation to any proposed or existing relevant OREI powered by waves or tides must include the following information:

  • a description of components located (or to be located) above and below the water line
  • details of any moving parts (or proposed parts) and of how far and in which direction such parts may move through waters surrounding the installation
  • a description of the extent and location (or proposed extent and location) of anchors, moorings and cables used (or to be used) in relation to the installation
  • details of the anticipated range of wave heights in the proposed safety zone, which may be given by reference to any generally accepted scale or code for expressing that information
  • a description of typical spring and neap tidal data, and of typical tidal stream speeds and bearings, relating to waters in the proposed safety zone

An application for a safety zone must also include the following information in relation to the proposed safety zone:

  • whether the zone relates to the construction, extension, operation or decommissioning of the relevant OREI
  • whether the applicant seeks the declaration of a standard safety zone, or if not, what dimensions are sought for that zone
  • a description of those works or operations in respect of which the zone is being applied for and their estimated date and duration
  • whether the applicant proposes that the area of the zone will vary and any factors or determinations by reference to which the applicant proposes that such variation may take place
  • whether the zone relates to major maintenance works in respect of a relevant OREI which has become operational
  • a statement setting out what steps, if any, the applicant proposes to take to monitor vessels and activities within the zone
  • except where the applicant has been notified that it is not required, an up to date shipping traffic survey for the waters comprising the zone
  • an assessment of the extent to which navigation might be possible or should be restricted, and whether restrictions would cause navigational problems, within or near waters where the relevant OREI is to be

Public notice of application

The applicant is required to publish notice of an application for a safety zone and send copies of the notice in accordance with regulation 4 of the 2007 Regulations. Additionally, within 21 days of the earliest date of publication of the notice under regulation 4, the applicant must also serve the notice of application in accordance with regulation 5 of the 2007 Regulations.

Prospective applicants should agree the public notice with MD-LOT prior to publication.

The public notice will be placed on the Marine Directorate Information website, together with the application and supporting information.

The applicant should forward details of the application to the Kingfisher Information Service with a request for details to be published in their fortnightly bulletin.


Any objections to the application must be made within the period stated in the public notice which shall not be less than 28 days from the date of the publication of the last notice. Any objections received by the applicant should be sent to the Scottish Ministers within 14 days of receipt.


There are no set timescales for determination of safety zone applications.

MD-LOT will make a decision on the application, taking into account any objections received and all other material considerations, as outlined in paragraph 4 of schedule 16 of the 2004 Act.

Following receipt of an application for a safety zone, MD-LOT can accept or reject the application; issue a safety zone notice in terms that are materially different from those applied for; or, in exceptional circumstances, decide that the application should be considered by a public inquiry.

In all cases, Scottish Ministers will write to the applicant to inform them of the decision.

Public inquiry

Where objections, or copies of objections, to an application have been sent to the Scottish Ministers in compliance with the 2007 Regulations, the Scottish Ministers must consider those objections, together with all other material considerations, with a view to determining whether a public inquiry should be held with respect to the application.

Schedule 16 of the 2004 Act contains the relevant procedures for when a public inquiry is to be held, in relation to a proposed safety zone.

Acceptance and implementation

Scottish Ministers will issue and publish a safety zone notice on the Marine Scotland Information website. The applicant is also required to publish the notice, in such a manner as appropriate, to bring it to the attention of persons likely to be affected by it. Details of what the notice must contain is outlined within section 95(6) of the 2004 Act.


See MD-LOT's contact details

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