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Maritime Forum

Licensing Toolkit - Scotland


Avg. duration: 10 months Validity: 6 yearsLegal cost: 700 poundsAuthority in charge: MS-LOT


Process PhaseDurationOverview of tasks
Preparation3-7 monthsProject definition including location, target size, type of equipment and techniques, potential impacts, etc.
Pre-engagement with stakeholders which is only mandatory for farms >1,000 sqm, but always highly encouraged
Documentation preparation in addition to paying the application fee
Process phaseDurationKey tasksChallenges
Project definition4-12 weeks (depending on knowledge of local area)
  • Define the project: Location, target size, type of equipment and techniques to be used as well as how the equipment is to be removed.
  • Assess potential impacts on the environment, other sea uses, cultural heritage sites, and biosecurity (i.e., impacts of invasive species) as well as visual impacts.
  • Consider using NMPi for finding an appropriate location.
  • The standard process requires that applications are in line with Scotland’s National Marine Plan. Make sure to comply.
  • Test / R&D licences are not available.
  • Fishing boats >12 m are tracked via the “Vessel Monitoring System”. Smaller fishing boats are not tracked, such that applicants might not recognize existing fishing activity. Make sure to talk directly with fishermen in the early stages of site selection to avoid conflict.
  • The Crown Estate stipulates 1 km distance to neighbouring fish farms. Not keeping this distance requires an agreement by the respective fish farm. Make sure to comply.
Pre-engagement with stakeholders≥ 6 weeks
  • Publish a “Pre-application consultation” (PAC) notification reflecting the project definition in local newspapers 6 weeks prior to the consultation event.
  • Offering a PAC is mandatory for farms >1,000 sqm, but always well received and frontloads effort.
  • Applicant must organize and pay for the event (currently held via Zoom due to COVID).
Documentation preparation2-6 weeks (depending on feedback from PAC)
  • Fill in the Licence Application Template based on the project definition and the PAC. The application can be submitted anytime after the PAC event.
  • Include a PAC Report which details the process, received feedback, outcome, and any mitigations in the application.
  • Pay the Application fee upfront to MS-LOT. It is determined by the project’s cost, scale, and complexity (Farms between 1000 – 50.000 sqm: 700 £).
  • The requirement of a biosecurity plan might not be communicated. Make sure to include it nevertheless.
  • MS-LOT can take several weeks to lodge the licence application. Plan accordingly.
  • Pre-Brexit, the EU might have required an “Environmental Impact Assessment”, depending on the project scale (Link). Natura 2000 sites could also impact the application. Changes due to Brexit are not yet disclosed. Make sure to check current regulation.


Process PhaseDurationOverview of tasks
Public consultation & licence draft3-6 monthsApplication validation by MS-LOT
Advertisement and public consultation during which MS-LOT will formally publish your licence application
Remediation / address feedback needs to be addressed that is sent by MS-LOT
Licence draft including conditions by the MS-LOT
Process phaseDurationKey tasksChallanges
Application validation2-4 weeks
  • After submission, wait for MS-LOT to assess the application. They will consider potential impacts and its accordance with the Marine Plan.
  • MS-LOT can take several weeks to review the licence application. Plan accordingly.
Advertisement and public consultation6 weeks
  • As soon as MS-LOT has replied, publish an advert (“Publication of notice”) stating that the licence application has been submitted to MS-LOT in a local newspaper. This advert must be approved by MS-LOT before publication.
  • MS-LOT will publish the detailed licence application on the Scottish Government website.
  • Statutory consultees and the public have 6 weeks to submit comments on the application to MS-LOT in writing (no event held).
  • No free newspapers allowed. Plan cost accordingly.
  • Consultees send comments to MS-LOT and not to the applicant.
Remediation / address feedback2-8 weeks
  • MS-LOT consolidates feedback and asks the applicant to address the feedback.
  • Depending on the extent of objections and comments submitted to MS-LOT, the application can be delayed. Plan accordingly.
Licence draft including conditions4-8 weeks
  • MS-LOT will carry out a consultation with both statutory and non-statutory consultees to draft the licence and its conditions.
  • You might be asked to submit an Emergency Response Plan to the coastguard.
  • This step can take several months depending on the consultation feedback sent to MS-LOT and the location of the site. Plan accordingly.


Process PhaseDurationOverview of tasks
Installation Pre-installation during which you will need to lease seabed from the Crown Estate
Installation install buoys, the farm and expect MS-LOT inspections
Process phaseDurationKey tasksChallanges
  • As soon as the licence has been granted, lease the seabed from the Crown Estate. A Lease Option can be applied for to secure ground while the licence application is in process. Usually, the Crown Estate does not object to the lease (exception: there are other, existing marine activities)
  • If you applied for a Lease Option, transform it to a Full Lease once the licence has been granted by MS-LOT.
  • Transforming a Lease Option to a Full Lease can take more than 6 weeks. Plan accordingly.
  • The Crown Estate stipulates 1 km distance to neighbouring fish farms. Not keeping this distance requires an agreement by the respective fish farm. Make sure to comply.
  • Install buoys that comply with the current requirements.
  • MS-LOT officials will inspect the farm on a regular basis.


Key resources

 Contact us to be featured as a key resourceIf you would like to be featured here as a resource to help future seaweed farmers navigate the licensing process, please contact contactateu4algae [dot] eu (contact[at]eu4algae[dot]eu)


Your fellow farmers


Kelp Crofting – Skye and Lochalsh

Founded by Martin, Kyla and Alex, Kelp Crofting is establishing a seaweed farm in the Skye and Lochalsh area to grow kelp for various markets.

Their common passion for the ocean and to create sustainable, local products has lead the team of fishers, scientists and architects to embark on the journey to establish their first seaweed farm.

KelpCrofting is currently consulting the public about their envisioned farm. With the stakeholder consultation finished, Kelp Crofting plans to have their seaweed farm established in fall 2021.


Contact us to be featured as a fellow farmer

Are you a Scottish seaweed farmer, or in the last strives of establishing your seaweed farm? If so, we would be interested in featuring you here as an inspiring example for future seaweed farmers. If you would like to be showcased, please contact us at: contactateu4algae [dot] eu (contact[at]eu4algae[dot]eu)