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This matrix illustrates the possible consents that may be needed for coastal development and works. It is not prescriptive as all developments will be different in their scale, location and nature but it acts as a guide to the consents that you should consider when developing your proposals. It is an applicants responsibility to apply for the correct consents and you should always refer to the consenting body for a definitive answer. This is particularly the case where the work is maintenance based such as replacement or refurbishment as local rules may apply. Minor works may also be exempted or covered by a self service Marine Licence rather than having to undertake a full Marine Licence application.

Once you have looked through the table, please refer to our page on consent details for more information on consents, consenting authority and exemptions. Please also read our Other Considerations page as this includes information on important issues that may need to be considered when applying for consents.

  Marine Licence 1.Planning Permission 2. Harbour Works Licence 3. Landowner Consent 4. Environmental Permit Notes
Landside coastal infrastructure   X   X X  Development above 5.MHWM.
Marine coastal infrastructure X X X X X Development below 6.MLWM.
Intertidal infrastructure X X X X X Development between MHWM and MLWM.
Jetties, moorings and pontoons X X X X X Non-commercial public access along the foreshore is covered by a general permissive consent from The Crown Estate. 
Slipways and waterside access X X X X X  
Land claim X X X X X  
Dredging - Offshore, capital and maintenance X   X X   Maintenance dredging may be exempt from requiring a Marine Licence. See section 2 of this Guide for more information.
Flood defence X X X X X Some private land/defence owners have certain permissive development rights.
Coast protection work X X X X X
Spoil disposal at sea X   X X    
Effluent discharge       X X Permission is needed from the Crown Estate for all discharge, storm water, cooling water intake and outfalls.
Commercial mobile benthic or pelagic fishing           Solent fishery activities are primarily regulated and monitored by the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. Local byelaws may require permission to be sought from, for example, the Harbour Authority. Please also check the legislation in the Fisheries Blue Book.
Disposal of fish and shellfish waste X     X  
Shellfish collection       X  
Mariculture X X X X X
Houseboats X   X X   Please refer to section 2 of this Guide regarding planning permission and houseboats.
Navigation marks and lights X X X X   Applicants also need to inform the hydrographic office and get consent from Trinity House.
Underwater cables and pipelines, incl. landside infrastructure X X X X X Developers need to account for the consents that the landfall of the pipes/cables require.
Marine renewables (offshore) X   X X    Commonly licensed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.
Foreshore recharge X X X X X In practice the permissions and licences required for recharge works are made on a case by case/site by site basis, often at the discretion of the local planning authority.
Marine sediment sampling and site investigation X   X X    Sampling for research puposes may be exempt.


  1. Planning permission applies within the jurisdiction of the local planning authority (LPA), this is normally works or development above the Mean Low Water Mark (MLWM). However in some estuaries and rivers, such as the River Hamble, the LPA boundary can extend into the river or estuary hence planning permission for waterside works or development should be sought.
  2. Only applicable where the activity takes place within a Harbour or the Harbour Limit. Harbours have different constitutions so you will need to contact the relevant Harbour Authority to definitively check whether a Licence is needed.
  3. Landowner is normally the Crown Estate below MLWM. The Crown Estate also owns approximately half of the foreshore. There is a public right of fishing that may exempt some fishery activities from landowner consent, contact the Crown Estate for a definitive answer.
  4. You may need an environmental permit if you do an activity that could pollute the air, water or land, increase flood risk or adversely affect land drainage. The Environment Agency is the consenting authority. You must also follow the environmental permitting rules if you want to do work on or near a main river, on or near a flood defence structure in a flood plain, on or near a sea defence.
  5. Mean High Water Mark (MHWM).
  6. Mean Low Water Mark (MLWM).


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