Marine Licensing - Wales

Marine licensing in Welsh waters

Do I need a marine licence?

A Marine Licence is required for licensable activities defined in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, involving the deposit or removal of a substance or material below the Mean High Water Springs Mark, or in any tidal river to the extent of the tidal influence. The Wales Act 2017 handed responsibility for marine licensing in the Welsh offshore region to Welsh Ministers, and marine licences in both inshore and offshore Welsh waters are now issued by Natural Resources Wales' (NRW) Marine Licensing Team (MLT). Licensable activities include deposits, construction, alteration or improvements, removals and navigational dredging. 

Activities that require a licence are grouped into three bands, with no statutory decision timescales. Band One activities are low risk activities, which are aimed to be determined within 10 weeks. Band Two activities include small to medium scale construction, alteration or improvement of works and maintenance navigational dredging, with decisions aimed to be made within four months. Band three applies to more complex activities, for which there is no time limit set for a decision.  

Forms to submit a marine licence application are available on the NRW website.  

In order to apply for a marine licence, you may also need to:


The Marine Licensing regime is enforced by Welsh Government, Marine and Fisheries Division


Some activities are exempt from needing a marine licence. These are set out in The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Wales) Order 2011, and include activities such as the deployment of scientific equipment. Notification of any exempt activity, as well as proof of meeting certain criteria, may be required. There are also some other activities that do not require a licence such as dredging and associated disposal authorised under local Acts or Harbour Orders.  

Exempted activities relevant to recreational boating include:

  • launching of vessels;
  • deposits in the normal course of navigation (such as anchoring);
  • deposit or removal of moorings and aids to navigation by a harbour authority, lighthouse authority, or someone acting on their behalf; and
  • deposit or use of flares for safety or training purposes. 

Band One Low Risk Activities

Band One activities have a simpler licensing process, designated for activities defined as low risk. These are laid out on the NRW website. Band one activities relevant to recreational boating include:

  • repair or replacement of bolts, flaps, valves, decking on a pier or pontoon;
  • replacing render or concrete, including resurfacing slipways;
  • replacement of single pile of the same diameter or less, using non-percussive piling methodology;
  • removal of marine growth and/or guano from structures and assets other than vessels; 
  • scaffolding/access towers to facilitate the maintenance of existing structures;
  • the installation of ladders at any building or structure;
  • deposit and subsequent removal of marker buoys; and
  • deposit and subsequent removal of posts for the purposes of marking channels, shallow water areas, outfalls and groynes. 


The activity also has to meet certain other criteria, laid out in NRW guidance. A method statement is also required for certain activities and for those in sensitive areas. 


Information on fees is available on the NRW website

Protected Areas

Any project within or adjacent to a European protected site will need a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). This includes Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Ramsar sites. 

Environmental Impact Assessments

Some types of project require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Screening can be carried out prior to a marine licence application to determine whether an EIA is required in relation to the proposed works. Where an Environmental Statement (ES) is required, a potential applicant can request a 'scoping opinion' as to the data and information to be included in the ES. 

Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) protects waters between the Mean Low Water Mark (MLWM) to one nautical mile offshore. You may need to show compliance with the WFD with a marine licence application. 

Further Consents

Further information on consents and permitting can be found on the NRW website

Alternatively, contact the RYA Planning Officer at