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MMO Licences for Marine Works including Dredging

Many of our clients are understandably unaware of the regulatory framework in the marine environment. We are able to assist in all stages of licence applications and can give timely advice on the type of information (ecological, chemical and sedimentological/hydrological) that may be required in support of a licence application.

There have been significant changes in the regul;atory framework and licensing procedures since the introduction of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA). From 6 April 2011 this replaced previous licensing regimes under the following legislation:

  • Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985 (FEPA) Part 2
  • Coast Protection Act 1949 (CPA) Section 34
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (Extraction of Minerals by Marine Dredging) Regulations 2007

The licencing system is administered by different organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland:

  • England - Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
  • Wales - Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
  • Scotland - Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS LOT)
  • N. Ireland - Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI)

You can download our document on licensing of marine works here. If you need any assistance with applying for marine licences we would be pleased to assist. Please contact us as early as possible.

Wildlife Licences and the Habitats Directive

Many marine species and habitats are protected under UK and European legislation. The most important regulations are:

  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) which protects unusual or vulnerable terrestrial and aquatic species in the UK
  • The EU Birds Directive (Council Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds)
  • The EU Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora)

One of the most important requirements of the EU Habitats Directive was that each country should contribute to a coherent European ecological network of protected sites by designating Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for habitats listed on Annex I and for species listed on Annex II. These measures were also applied to Special Protection Areas (SPAs) classified under Article 4 of the Birds Directive. Together SACs and SPAs make up the Natura 2000 network.

Any activity that may affect the designated features of a Natura 2000 site cannot proceed except under a licence from the relevant authority. In the case of England this is the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). Note that the development could be outside the boundary of an SAC or SPA, but still have the potential to affect it. It is therefore best to get a screening opinion from the MMO at a very early stage in the project.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act protects a range of terrestrial and aquatic species. Marine and estuarine species protected under the WCA include seahorses, seals, dolphins, porpoises and several species of unusual invertebrates (e.g. tentacled lagoon worm) and seaweeds (algae). Plesae contact us if you would like advise on which, if any, may be close to your development site.

Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs)

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) was published in 1994, as the UKs response to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which the UK signed up to in 1992 (Rio Convention). The Rio Convention required a significant reduction in the loss of biodiversity. The UK was the first country to produce a national biodiversity action plan. The UK BAP gave detailed plans for conservation of our natural resources. Biodiversity Action Plans were initially produced by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) at a UK level for a wide range of habitats:

  • Maritime cliff and slopes
  • Coastal sand dunes
  • Machair
  • Coastal vegetated shingle
  • Littoral and sub-littoral chalk
  • Sabellaria alveolata reefs
  • Sabellaria spinulosa reefs
  • Coastal saltmarsh
  • Mudflats
  • Sheltered muddy gravels
  • Tidal rapids
  • Modiolus modiolus beds
  • Seagrass beds
  • Maerl beds (maerl is a type of calcified red seaweed that can form beds of dense nodules on the seabed)
  • Saline lagoons (plus annex with eight species statements)
  • Mud habitats in deep water (plus annex with two species statements)
  • Serpulid reefs
  • Sublittoral sands and gravels
  • Lophelia pertusa reefs

With devolution the responsibility for protecting prority BAPs has transferred to the four countries that comprise the UK. Please click here if you require more information, or contact your national conservation body.

Aquatonics Lts has experience in surveying and mapping many of the above BAP priority habitats and can advise clients at an early stage whether they may be present in or close to a proposed development.

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