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, the Marine Management Organisation (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 infrastructure projects, including international cable developments, as a project of common interest (PCI) under the TEN-E Regulation.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is designated as the UK national competent authority (NCA) for the regulations. The NCA has delegated authority to facilitate and coordinate the TEN-E Regulation consent granting process to the MMO for some PCI Interconnector Cables (for cables consented under a DCO the MMO will not be the NCA). The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (formerly DECC) 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.

Third Union list of PCIs in England

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

Reference PCI
1.1.1 Belgium-United Kingdom Interconnection between Zeebrugge (Belgium) and the vicinity of Richborough (UK) - NEMO Link
1.7.1 France-United Kingdom interconnection between Cotentin (France) and the vicinity of Exeter (UK) – FAB Link
1.7.2 France-United Kingdom interconnection between Tourbe (France) and Chilling (UK) – IFA2
1.7.5 France-United Kingdom Interconnection between the vicinity of Dunkerque (FR) and the vicinity of Kingsnorth (UK) - Gridlink
1.10.1 Norway-United Kingdom interconnection, possibly between Kvilldal (Norway) and Blyth (UK) - North Sea Link
1.13 Iceland – United Kingdom Interconnection – currently known as Icelink
1.14 Interconnection between Revsing (DK) and Bicker Fen (UK) - Viking Link

Tasks for project 1.1.2, which forms part of the NEMO project and Project 1.7.4 Interconnection between Le Havre (FR) and Lovedean (UK) (currently known as ‘AQUIND’) , will be delegated to the Planning Inspectorate. Tasks for project 1.1.3, which is the third NEMO element, will not be delegated.

Published 11 June 2014
Last updated 17 May 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated to reflect current UK National Competent Authority

  2. Interconnection between Revsing (DK) and Bicker Fen (UK) [currently known as "Viking Link"] information added

  3. First published.