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On 2 November 2018, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ('DEFRA') published their consultation on revisions to marine licensing exemptions. The consultation closes on 14 December 2018, and, subject to the outcome of this consultation, the current planning assumption is for agreed changes to come into effect from 6 April 2019.
The government conducted a review of the exemptions, set out largely in the Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) Order 2011 (as amended), with the aim to reducing burdens and ensuring that any risks to the marine area are well managed.
It is proposed that the following new exemptions will be included:
- Recovery of marine litter and abandoned, discarded or lost fishing gear (ADLFG);
- Use of vehicles and vessels to remove marine debris by a Harbour Authority;
- In-water hull cleaning of lightly fouled recreational vessels.
The following exemption will be dis-applied:
- Shellfish propagation and cultivation for new shellfish farms or extensions to areas of shellfish propagation and cultivation by existing shellfish farms (Article 13).
The following exemptions will be amended:
- Scientific instruments (Article 17) - to exclude scientific instruments that pose the greatest risk to the safety of navigation;
- Maintenance of coast protection, drainage and flood defence works (Article 19) - to extend the current exemption to include all Local Authorities, and to cover the Secretary of State for Defence;
- Emergency work in response to flood or flood risk (Article 20) - to remove the requirement for the Environment Agency ('EA'), or those working on its behalf, to secure approval from the Marine Management Organisation ('MMO') prior to the emergency works being undertaken, and to introduce the requirement for the EA to notify the MMO of emergency works within 72 hours of them commencing;
- Use of vehicles to remove litter, seaweed or dead animals (Article 21) - to apply the exemption to both beaches and intertidal areas and extend it to include the Secretary of State for Defence;
- Moorings or aids to navigation (Article 25) - to remove the requirement on harbour and lighthouse authorities, or those carrying out the activity with their consent, to provide prior notice to the MMO when carrying out the relevant activity;
- Temporary markers (Article 26A) - to provide that the requirement to provide prior notice to the MMO only applies to markers that will be in place for longer than 24 hours (but less than 28 days);
- Diver trails within restricted areas (Article 31) - extending the exemption to include wrecks protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986;
- Cables and pipeline - authorised emergency inspection repair (Article 34) - to replace the requirement to obtain prior approval from MMO with a requirement to notify the MMO within 24 hours of completion of the emergency works, and to clarify that this exemption does not apply to cable and pipeline protection works, such as a deposit made for the purpose of providing rock protection, which would require a marine licence.
The consultation does not cover marine licensing exemptions in the Scottish offshore region, the Welsh inshore and offshore regions, or the Northern Ireland inshore region.