Apply for a harbour order

How to apply for a harbour order to either create new harbour powers or to change the existing powers of a harbour authority.

Harbour revision orders (HROs) are used to change the legislation governing the management of a harbour.

Harbour empowerment orders (HEOs) are mainly concerned with building new harbours and or creating harbour authorities responsible for improving, maintaining and managing them.

Harbour orders that have purely administrative effect are commonly called ‘non-works orders’. Those which authorise a development are commonly called ‘works orders’.

If you are seeking a works order, a marine licence may also be required. The processes for works orders and marine licences are different and the role of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is different in each, but MMO will seek to process the applications for the harbour order and the marine licence together.

The complexity of the proposal, the nature and numbers of objections and parliamentary timescales will all affect the time taken to process an application for a harbour order.

MMO may stop your application if:

  • you do not comply with the suitable procedural requirements
  • there are outstanding objections
  • you withdraw the application

From 1 April 2018 Welsh Ministers will take over responsibility for port development policy for harbours wholly in Wales apart from major trust ports. This responsibility extends to applications for Harbour Revision and Empowerment Orders, private act (‘Admiralty’) consents, applications for powers to make harbour directions and confirmation of byelaws.

All such applications received after 1 April 2018 will be handled by the Welsh Government.

Before you apply

You should discuss requirements and procedures with MMO and consult relevant authorities and interested people locally before making an application.

Contact the Marine Licensing Team on 0300 123 1032 or email

Notify MMO that you intend to apply

You must notify MMO in writing of your intention to submit an application if the proposed order would directly or indirectly authorise a project.

Project means starting works or other installations or schemes, and other interventions in the natural surroundings and landscape including the extraction of mineral resources.

Assess environmental impact

MMO will screen the application to decide whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is necessary and what it should cover. MMO will also give reasons for the decision.

The EIA required for a harbour order is required by a different set of regulations to an EIA for a marine licence, but the work carried out is the same. MMO will usually choose to defer its marine licence EIA decision to its harbour order decision.

Draft an order

You can request an informal review of the draft order before making an application to identify any fundamental issues. It is also recommended that you take independent legal advice.

Formal application

Please discuss MMO’s specific requirements for your application with the case officer before you make an application for a harbour order.

Applications should be sent by email to or posted to:

Harbour Orders
Marine Management Organisation
Lancaster House
Hampshire Court
Newcastle upon Tyne


You must pay the suitable fees when you formally apply. The fees are:

  • £2,000 if the sole purpose of the order is to amend the borrowing powers of an existing authority
  • £4,000 for any other order that would not empower an authority to carry out works
  • £6,000 for an order which expressly empowers an authority to carry out works where an EIA is not required
  • £10,000 for an order which expressly empowers an authority to undertake works where an EIA is required

Documents to provide when you apply

Submit an accompanying statement with your application. This may be the only opportunity to put your case for the order, so it is important that you set out fully why the order is necessary, how it meets with relevant policy, and how the requirements of the Harbours Act 1964 have been met.

You must also include.

  • 6 copies of the draft order and any annexed documents and maps
  • the fee
  • copies of the environmental statement as specified by MMO

You must advertise the application and MMO will usually also write directly to those we consider to have an interest in the proposal. In some instances, MMO will also direct you to provide copies of the application to specific bodies.

You must provide original copies of the notices to MMO once they have appeared.

If the order would authorise the compulsory purchase of land or affect a footpath or bridleway, there are extra requirements for giving notice. These include:

  • serving notice on every owner, lessee, tenant and occupier affected by the compulsory purchase
  • serving notice on every local authority for the area in which the public right of way is situated
  • displaying the notice in a prominent position at each end of the part of the public right of way affected by the order

From the date the advert first appears, there are 42 days for objections and representations to be made.

If you have an objection to a proposed harbour order, you must state the grounds for your objections. If there are any objections that cannot be resolved then a public inquiry may be held.

Change your draft order

After you have submitted a formal application, you may propose changes to the draft order. This is most commonly done to resolve objections or concerns. MMO will consider the significance of the changes and decide whether another advertisement or consultation is needed.

MMO will not accept a change that introduces the compulsory purchase of land, which was not described in your original application, unless all interested parties give their approval.

Where MMO proposes to make an order with modifications that substantially affect the character of the order, everyone likely to be concerned will be informed and allowed reasonable time for comment.

Public inquiry

An inquiry may be held where there are outstanding objections to an order. An inspector is appointed and each inquiry is managed to suit the particular case.

You, the applicant, have to meet all costs and make the necessary practical arrangements. Costs can vary considerably and they are not a part of the application fee. You must pay MMO to cover the cost of the inquiry after the inspector’s report has been received.

You are usually required to give notice of the inquiry in the same papers where you advertised the original application not fewer than 6 weeks in advance.

If there are related applications, such as planning and licensing applications, MMO may deal with them all together at a single inquiry.

After the inquiry, the inspector’s report recommends actions for MMO to consider when making its final decision.

Final decision

MMO’s decision on your application for a harbour order will be sent to you and interested people. It is also published on the harbour orders public register.

An order will usually be made at the time the decision letter is issued. As the applicant you must publish notice of the fact that the order has been made in the same publications where earlier notices appeared.

A copy of the order must be served on anyone on whom notice of the application was previously served.

Following an order being approved, it is laid before Parliament for a period of 40 days. It will automatically become law unless there is an objection from either house. The date the order will come into force must be at least 21 days after it is laid before Parliament.


There is no right of appeal against refusal to make a harbour order or its terms.

The order may, however, be challenged within 6 weeks from the date it becomes operative by application to the High Court.

Further information

Harbour orders public register

Harbours Act 1964

Harbours Act 1964 (Delegation of Functions) Order 2010

Contact information

Marine Licensing Team

0300 123 1032

Published 11 June 2014
Last updated 27 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added in new information for Wales

  2. First published.