Harbour Revision, Empowerment and Closure Orders

The majority of operational ports and harbours in the UK are run by 'statutory' harbour authorities ("SHAs"). SHAs originally obtained their powers under statute and as such, must exercise them in accordance with their governing legislation. If they fail to do so, an SHA, as a 'quasi' public body may be subject to Judicial Review. Amending existing powers, creating a new SHA or closing a statutory harbour requires a harbour order. We draft harbour orders (including harbour revision orders, harbour empowerment orders and harbour closure orders) and assist with the application process. 

If an SHA wishes to amend its statutory harbour powers, introduce new ones or remove those which have become outdated it will need to apply to the Marine Management Organisation ("MMO") for a harbour revision or harbour empowerment order. A harbour order may be either a 'works' order (i.e. it authorises development works) or a 'non-works' order (it amends the harbour authority's constitutional or administrative powers.

The MMO's power to grant harbour orders originates from the Harbours Act 1964. There are three types of orders:

  • Section 14, 15 & 15A harbour revision orders
  • Section 16 harbour empowerment orders
  • Section 18 harbour reorganisation schemes

In addition, the Marine Navigation Act 2013 introduced Harbour Closure Orders, to enable statutory harbour authorities to make applications to request the removal of the statutory harbour powers and effective 'closure' of a statutory harbour which is no longer commercially viable or necessary. The 'closure' of the harbour does not necessarily mean that it will no longer be used for marine purposes, simply that it will not be run by an SHA.  It may, for example become a private marina and the land around the harbour used for development.  Harbour Closure Order applications are made to the Department of Transport (or the Welsh Ministers) rather than the MMO.

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