Marine licensing: overview

Overview of marine licensing, examples of licensable activities and links to relevant publications.

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Marine Directorate - Licensing Operations Team (MD-LOT) is the regulator responsible for determining marine licence applications on behalf of the Scottish Ministers in the Scottish inshore region (between 0 and 12 nautical miles (nm)) under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, and in the Scottish offshore region (between 12 and 200 nm) under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

Marine licences are required for 'licensable marine activities' below mean high water spring tide level and in the waters of estuaries, rivers or channels, so far as the tide flows at mean high water spring tide.

Examples of ‘licensable marine activities’ include:

  • construction of offshore renewable generating stations
  • construction in/over the sea, or on/under the seabed (e.g. breakwaters, piers, land reclamation, submarine cables, outfalls, slipways, bridges, jetties, seaweed farms etc.)
  • dredging
  • deposits in the sea or on/under the seabed (e.g. the deposit of dredged material at sea)
  • beach replenishment
  • finfish and shellfish farms - potential hazards to navigation only
  • removal of substances and objects from the seabed
  • walkways/pontoons/moorings
  • deposit and use of explosives

It is not permitted to carry out a licensable marine activity except in accordance with a marine licence granted by MD-LOT.

Marine licence applications and licences can be viewed on the Marine Scotland website.

Further considerations:

  • certain construction projects may need an accompanying Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • pre-application consultation (PAC) and notification may be required before applying for a marine licence for certain activities
  • certain activities are specified as exempted activities and therefore may not need a marine licence
  • completion of the Marine Noise Registry may be required

Relevant publications:

Relevant legislation 



Tel: +44 (0)300 244 5046

Marine Directorate - Licensing Operations Team
Marine Scotland
375 Victoria Road
AB11 9DB

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