Marine licensing

If you are an individual or business planning a marine development in Wales, you will need to consider the requirements for a licence to undertake your activity. Welsh Government has devolved responsibility for the management of a range of marine activities.

A wide range of activities in Welsh waters require a marine licence before works can be undertaken. Applications are most commonly made in relation to deposits of substances or objects in the sea, or on or under the sea bed, for example:

  • navigational dredging and disposal of dredged material at sea
  • aggregates dredging
  • construction of offshore renewable energy projects
  • removal of sediment for sampling purposes
  • installation of tidal or wind turbines
  • construction works on the coast (sea walls, jetties, extensions to ports/harbours etc.).

When determining an application for a marine licence the licensing authority must have regard to

  • the need to protect the environment,
  • the need to protect human health,
  • the need to prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea,

and such other matters as the authority thinks relevant

Environment Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment

The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (as amended) incorporate the European Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive into UK law. The Directive aims to ensure that the licensing authority giving the consent for projects is aware of any likely significant environmental effects before making its decision. 

If a project is likely to have a significant effect on the environment, an EIA must be carried out before a license can be granted. The aims of an EIA are to protect the environment and allow the public to play a part in making decisions.

For more information and advice on whether a marine licence is required for your project, and further advice on EIA and other associated requirements, please visit the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) website.

Likewise, the requirement for a Habitat Regulations Assessment will be required when planning developments near a European protected site. More information with regard to the assessment process

The NRW Marine Licensing Team can be contacted on:

For information about Welsh Government marine licensing policy and arrangements for appeals, please visit our Marine Licensing pages.

Links to other areas:

Further information about Welsh Government marine planning policy

The Marine Licensing system is a tool to deliver Good Environmental Status in our waters by 2020.