Explore top questions within Permissions


What is needed in terms of licences, consents and leasing?

The Scottish Government, NatureScot and Crown Estate Scotland are responsible for the safe, healthy and prosperous management of our seas and coasts. They have a number of teams whose work directly relates to marine restoration and enhancement and/or deal with consents and licences. Considerable advice is available from these teams so take time to get in touch and create relationships with key people.

The following is a short summary of the regulations – it can sound imposing, but don’t let that put you off, there are people to help guide you through this but it is much better to plan your project with a good understanding of what is currently needed in terms of licences and consents.

Notes on permissions:

  • It is a licensable marine activity under Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 to construct, alter or improve any works, which may include an oyster reef.
  • Marine licence requirements depend on the methods used to undertake the project.
  • A marine license is likely to be required for the deposition of any material e.g. cultch on the sea bed.
  • Fishing by any means does not require a marine licence but other permits may be needed.
  • The Fish Health Inspectorate should be involved to help with addressing concerns about notifiable diseases and fish health e.g. when planning to restock any species or for placement of cultch. Crown Estate Scotland may also need to give their consent for a restoration project if it occurs on the land or seabed they manage.
  • If oyster cultch is used to construct an oyster reef, pre-application consultation (PAC) may be required under The Marine Licensing (Pre-Application Consultation) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 if the footprint exceeds 1000 m2. Furthermore, if the reef has the potential to alter coastal processes, Environmental Impact Assessment screening may be required under The Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017. These are processes which must be carried out prior to applying for a marine licence.
  • SEPA should be consulted particularly with regard to biosecurity plan protocols, extracting or releasing water or where cultch is weathered on land as effluent can enter groundwater/ water courses.


It is a licensable marine activity under Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 to deposit any substance or object within the Scottish marine area, either in the sea or on or under the seabed, from any of the following—

(a) a vehicle, vessel, aircraft or marine structure,

(b) a container floating in the sea, or

(c) a structure on land constructed or adapted wholly or mainly for the purpose of depositing solids in the sea.


However, the placement of certain equipment for purposes of propagation or cultivation of shellfish may be exempt from the requirement of a marine licence under article 12 of The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Scottish Inshore Region) Order 2011.

Read the regulations fully before getting in touch with the relevant departments to get initial advice prior to application.

More information can be found on the Marine Scotland Licensing pages.

Create a bespoke check list for your project:

Suggested actions to add to your checklist…


Browse all themes

We use third-party cookies to personalise content and analyse site traffic.

Learn more