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The MMO continues on its journey to bring a tide of new improvements to our marine licensing service

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Marine licensing continues to change so that our services are efficient, fair and transparent. Following on from improvements we’ve brought in such as our online self-service system, there are now more changes scheduled regarding compliance, cost recovery and better transparency.

What are the changes?

  • We’re increasing our compliance checks of marine licences to ensure we are acting consistently when protecting our marine environment
  • We’re seeking to bring Harbour Order charges up to date - they were last changed over 25 years ago
  • We’ll be recovering costs for our services so that we don’t burden the taxpayer and ensuring parity to how we charge our customers
  • We intend on recovering the costs of our advice to developers who work on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
  • We want to be as transparent as possible so that people know our estimated costs upfront and they can check the progress of their online licence applications
  • We are looking to provide better guidance for exemptions, delivering a tool so that people can assess whether their marine activity may need a licence or can benefit from an exemption.

Large boat carrying shipping containers.

Why do we need these changes? 

There are a whole host of reasons as to why we continuously seek changes and improvements.

As the primary marine regulator of our seas we want to ensure our licensing activities support sustainable growth. Once we license activity we continue to monitor conditions on licences so that there are no adverse effects that occur in our marine environment. This is going to become even more critical as we leave the EU and take control of our waters via domestic regulations. It also helps us deliver the government’s vision of leaving the environment in a better state for future generations.

Ongoing engagement with customers and licence holders means we are responding to feedback and suggestions on how we can make improvements. We already know that a significant group of licence holders and developers want these changes to make the application and post-monitoring process easier.

Also, our customers have told us that they want a more efficient marine licensing system where they can track the progress of their applications and check whether their licence may be exempt. Changing our services to be more transparent makes it easier to manage their business.

We also need to ensure marine licensing costs are not the burden of our taxpayers and that we recover costs in a fair, consistent and effective way.

When will these changes come about?

Monitoring and compliance - monitoring licences in the future will confirm that any conditions on the licence have been applied appropriately and are effective. This will help to ensure we are effectively protecting our marine environment. Our licence holders will receive a communication shortly with more information about changes to our approach to monitoring from 1 April 2019.

Harbour orders - in partnership with Department for Transport we will launch a consultation on the revision of Harbour Order charges. These haven’t been changed in 25 years and we need to ensure consistency and fairness to all in terms of cost recovery.  We welcome input from customers via a consultation, which is anticipated to start in April 2019.

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) - we need to ensure that we are fully cost recovering on our advice to developers. We are working alongside industry on how we support them with pre-application advice and more information will be available in the coming year.

Everything else – we will keep you up to date with changes over the next year. See how you can get updates on the work of the MMO below.

Where can I find out more information?

We welcome feedback from you and if you have any questions, please get in touch by emailing

Want more updates on the work of the MMO? Find us on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook. 


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