The Marine Management Organisation (MMO), in partnership with the Department for Transport (DfT), has announced changes to Harbour Order (HO) application fees.
This follows a consultation in 2019 and a subsequent period of stakeholder engagement in 2021 to take into account the effects of the pandemic and departure from the EU; the responses to which are covered in this consultation document.
Harbour Orders have been administered by the MMO since the organisation was established in 2010, through a delegated function from DfT. The current fee structure has not been updated since 1994, and neither reflects the actual costs to the MMO in determining HO applications, or recognises the increased complexity of these applications.
As a result, HO fees will increase, to ensure that a greater proportion of the cost associated with processing HOapplications is met by applicants rather than the public purse. This approach ensures that those who benefit from MMOservices cover the cost associated with processing applications and is in line with government guidelines in managing public money, which sets out the principles for managing resources in the public sector. The changes will be made from October 2022, with increases in application fees phased over a two-year period. A discretionary pre-application advice service will also be established that will charge at an hourly rate.
Despite not recovering costs for processing HO applications, the MMO has improved the HO service and created greater efficiencies, with dedicated Harbour Order points of contact in place to provide advice to applicants. Online guidance has also been developed to help applicants through the process, internal systems have been streamlined and further improvements are planned.
The MMO, working closely with policy colleagues in DfT, has recently (in 2021) processed nine Harbour Orders allowing ports and harbours across England to be improved, maintained and managed more effectively. The Orders provide the authorities with updated, modern powers to regulate their jurisdiction and ensure compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code.