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Wind turbines, sea


Seabed survey licences

We provide permissions for temporary activities which physically interact with the seabed, including but not limited to, geotechnical, ecological and meteorological studies, as well as larger scale archaeological projects.

Seabed Survey Licences (SSLs) enable applicants to undertake a range of small scale, temporary activities offshore, which physically interact with the seabed, for a maximum period of up to 12 months.

SSLs cover a range of activities, including but not limited to geotechnical, geophysical, ecological and meteorological studies, as well as larger scale archaeological projects. They enable the applicant to temporarily occupy the relevant seabed for the purposes of undertaking the intended works, covered by the agreement.

Within the 12 nautical mile limit, all survey activity that interacts with the seabed requires a SSL, unless the works fall within the public rights of navigation or fishing.

Outside of 12 nautical mile (i.e. beyond the territorial limit) survey activity only requires a SSL if it relates to an activity over which The Crown Estate holds rights, such as offshore renewable energy, marine mineral extraction, or gas and carbon storage. Non-commercial research activity outside 12 nautical miles does not require a licence.

For survey activity taking place on the nearshore, such as tidal rivers, estuaries and harbours, please take a look at our Coastal survey licences page.


Seabed Survey Licence Application Form (.docx)

  • Please be aware that it can take The Crown Estate around 6 weeks to issue a licence of this kind, though from February to September it may be longer due to increased demand. Please ensure that you leave sufficient time for your application to be processed and any conditions to be discharged before commencing the proposed activity.

  • Application fees: Standard rate £500 / Concessionary rate* £100

Longer term activity offshore

  • Longer term activities in relation to commercial projects may need a different type of agreement. Please contact the consents team for more information.

  • The Crown Estate now offers an offshore Seabed Survey Licence PLUS which allows deployment of survey equipment (usually in the form of a buoy) for a maximum period of up to 3 years. These can be applied for using the standard application form and are considered on a case by case basis.

  • Application fees: Standard rate £750 / Concessionary rate* £300

 Additional consents

  • In addition to a SSL, you may also require other consents from statutory authorities, such as marine licences from the Marine Management Organisation, Natural Resource Wales or Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and/or permissions from the Environment Agency or a Harbour Authority.

  • It is your responsibility to verify the need for any additional statutory consents. Each SSL will be conditional on you obtaining all required consents and complying with any conditions within them.

  • If your survey area intersects or is in close proximity to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) / Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) or Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), we recommend that you contact the relevant Statutory Nature Conservation Body (SNCB) in advance of applying for your SSL, to establish whether there is any likely impact on the site features, and to implement any required mitigation.

In some cases we may be required to seek advice from the relevant SNCB prior to the awarding of survey rights, which can add significant time onto the processing of the SSL.

 *Concessionary rates apply if:

  • You are an independent researcher undertaking works for an academic not for profit research project e.g. BSc, MSc and educational research courses

  • You are a Local Council or similar public body undergoing not for profit research to develop understanding of coastline that helps the surrounding area e.g. coastal defence, Civil Hydrography Programme

  • You are completing not for profit archaeological/wreck investigations for no commercial purposes

Useful information


  • A generic graphic of a person's light blue silhouette on a dark blue background.

    Consents team