Planning and development – guidance

Apply to lay cables

Laying telecommunications and power cables within UK territorial waters (up to 12 nautical miles) requires a marine licence.

Laying telecommunications and power cables within UK territorial waters (up to 12 nautical miles) requires a marine licence. If the cable is an international cable, MMO are obliged to grant the marine licence, but can include conditions.

Laying international cables outside UK territorial waters (beyond 12 nautical miles) does not require a marine licence. However, associated works, such as pre-lay dredge and disposal and cable protection works may require a marine licence.

A marine licence is required for the laying of all cables used in connection with:

  • exploring the UK sector of the continental shelf
  • exploiting the natural resources of that sector
  • operating artificial islands, installations and structures under the jurisdiction of the UK
  • preventing, reducing or controlling pollution from pipelines

MMO cannot grant a marine licence for works within non-Crown-owned tidal sea beds unless it is satisfied that adequate arrangements have been made to compensate owners of interests in the tidal water or lands affected for any loss or damage.

Trans-European Networks – Energy (TEN-E)

The European Commission can designate energy infrastrucutre projects, including international cable developments, as a project of common interest (PCI) under the TEN-E Regulations.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is designated as the UK national competent authority (NCA) for the regulations. The NCA has delegated MMO to carry out tasks on his behalf. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published the manual of procedures (PDF, 823KB) on the permit granting process for PCIs in the UK.

See more information on PCIs, including an overview of PCIs by country and an interactive map.

First Union list of PCIs in England

The PCIs for which NCA tasks are delegated to the MMO are below.

Reference PCI
1.1.1 Interconnection between Zeebrugge (Belgium) and the vicinity of Richborough (UK) (NEMO element)
1.7.1 France-United Kingdom interconnection between Cotentin (France) and the vicinity of Exeter (UK) – currently known as FAB project
1.7.2 France-United Kingdom interconnection between Tourbe (France) and Chilling (UK) – currently known as the IFA2 project
1.9.5 Ireland-United Kingdom interconnection between the Irish midlands and Alverdiscott, Devon (UK)
1.10 Norway-United Kingdom interconnection, possibly between Kvilldal (Norway) and Blyth (UK)
1.14 Interconnection between Revsing (DK) and Bicker Fen (UK) (currently known as “Viking Link”)

Tasks for project 1.1.2, which forms part of the NEMO project, will be delegated to the Planning Inspectorate. Tasks for project 1.1.3, which is the third NEMO element, will not be delegated.