- 29 Oct 2020
An operator currently requires a marine licence under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (“the 2010 Act”) for any discharge of chemical residues from a wellboat, including the discharge of any chemical residues left after bath treatments if such treatment takes place in a wellboat.
The discharge of the same chemical substances to the water environment in the course of operations at a fish farm site requires the operator to obtain authorisation from SEPA (the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR).
As a result, a fish farm operator could require two licences (a CAR licence and a marine licence) for what is essentially the same activity. Relevant conditions within the CAR and marine licences ensure the same level of protection of the water environment therefore this dual regulation is considered unnecessarily complex.
In 2016, the Independent Review of Aquaculture Consenting recommended that the marine licence for the discharge of chemical residues via a well-boat should be consolidated within the associated CAR licence. This work is now complete – the information below details the changes that are being made and how they may affect you.
The consolidation is being achieved by means of an amendment to the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order 2011. The mechanism for achieving this is that the discharge of any substance carried on in the course of the propagation or cultivation of fish, will be exempt from marine licensing. This will include both chemical substances and organic matter discharged as part of the normal operations of wellboats.
That means that such discharges will in future fall within the scope of CAR in exactly the same way that discharges of bath treatments from the fish farm currently fall within the scope of CAR, as activities liable to cause pollution of the water environment. Any necessary conditions relating to discharges from wellboats will be included within a CAR licence.
These changes will simplify the legislative framework by integrating the regulation of bath treatment discharges under a single regulator. This removes the need to reapply for marine licences at periodic intervals.
The new legislation will come into force on 9 November 2020. The information below describes what you will be required to do from this date.
What you need to do from 9 November 2020
New wellboat licence applications
From 9 November 2020, all new applications for the discharge of chemical treatment residues from a wellboat will be made to SEPA.
Application for discharge of chemical treatment residues from wellboats will be integrated into SEPAs normal CAR application process from 9 November, thus all new CAR permits granted from that date containing authorisation to discharge bath treatment chemical residues will include authorisation to discharge from wellboats. No separate application is required; the CAR application process is outlined on the SEPA website.
In the first part of 2021, as part of a wider project to vary all existing CAR permits onto SEPAs new Finfish Aquaculture Regulatory Framework, SEPA will add authorisation to discharge chemical residues from a wellboat to all permits which are already authorised to discharge chemical residues from bath treatments.
Where an existing CAR licences does not currently authorise discharge of chemical residues a full application, with supporting information will be required; authorisation to discharge from bath and wellboat treatments can be applied for as part of the normal (technical) variation process. Forms are available on the SEPA website.
Queries regarding authorisation to discharge from wellboats should be emailed to: email@example.com
Existing marine licences
With the exception of licences that are subject to the ongoing procedures discussed in paragraph 4 below, existing marine licences will transfer to and be governed by the CAR regime from 30 November 2020.
Existing licences with a date of expiry after 30 November 2020
In these cases no further action is required. Existing wellboat licences will continue to have effect after the date of implementation until their current date of expiry, or until 30 April 2021 whichever is the later. These marine licences will automatically become ‘deemed’ CAR licences, sitting alongside a licence holder’s existing CAR licences. The conditions in a ‘deemed’ licence will continue to remain in force, unless varied or removed by SEPA in accordance with CAR.
Existing licences with a date of expiry between 9 November 2020 and 30 November 2020
Any marine licences which are due to expire in the period between 9 November and 29 November 2020 inclusive will be deemed to be granted until 30 November 2020. Such licences will then transfer to and be governed by the CAR regime until 30 April 2021.
The expectation is that in time SEPA will seek to consolidate the ‘deemed’ CAR licences with existing CAR licences held by the same person or business.
There will be no charges by Marine Scotland or SEPA for this transfer process.
As CAR permits are moved onto the new Finfish Aquaculture Regulatory Framework, wellboat conditions will be incorporated into the CAR permit and existing Marine licences will subsequently be revoked. Wellboat conditions will be incorporated into CAR permanently so will no longer require renewal on a 3-yearly basis.
Applications for a marine licence which are ongoing as of 9 November 2020
To make the transfer process as transparent and simple as possible, any procedure which has commenced under the 2010 Act will be concluded before the licence is transferred to CAR.
Consequently, any application for a marine licence made prior to 9 November 2020 to Marine Scotland - Licensing Operations Team will be determined by Scottish Ministers under the provisions of the 2010 Act. If granted, the licence would become a ‘deemed’ CAR licence from a period of 22 days after the date of granting. The ‘deemed’ licences will continue to have effect after the date of implementation until their current date of expiry.
Other procedures ongoing as of 9 November 2020
Variations, suspensions or revocations to an existing marine licence
Any ongoing variation, suspension or revocation procedure commenced under the Act, whether by an operator or Scottish Ministers, will continue to be governed by the 2010 Act.
Appeals in relation to an existing marine licence
Any appeal made against the refusal by Scottish Ministers to grant a marine licence under the 2010 Act will continue to be subject to the procedure under the Marine Licensing Appeals (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
Any appeal against a notice of variation, suspension or revocation given by the Scottish Ministers will continued to be subject to the Marine Licensing Appeals (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
Inquiries relating to an existing marine licence
Any inquiry underway under the 2010 Act will continue to be governed by the 2010 Act.
Procedures to govern enforcement, offences and civil sanctions
These procedures will continue to be governed by the 2010 Act.
Once any such procedures are concluded, a marine licence that remains in force would become a deemed CAR licence. In the case of an appeal against the refusal of an application, should the appeal be successful and the decision to refuse is overturned, the marine licence will become a deemed CAR licence as soon as it is granted.
Data returns and notifications under existing Marine licences
From 30 November; notification of well boat discharges must be made to firstname.lastname@example.org, 2 days before the discharge.
Data returns required under the Marine licence should be submitted to email@example.com
How to help with the transition
To assist with the transfer process, it would be helpful if prospective applicants would cease submitting new marine licence applications for sites where the existing licence expires prior to the new legislation coming into force on 9 November 2020.