Harbour Legislation—Home


Welcome to the web pages for the CMAL Harbour Legislation.


The purpose of this page is to provide information on harbour legislation with respect to:—

  • General information on harbour authorities and harbour legislation
  • The relationship between the harbour authority, harbour legislation and the safety of the operations within the harbour
  • Information on harbour legislation that is being promoted at CMAL ports through separate web pages.
  • Provide information that will allow interested stakeholders to get in touch with CMAL with respect to harbour legislation

Keep up-to-date

Stakeholders can sign-up to receive updates from CMAL as the Harbour Legislation projects progress

CMAL as Harbour Authority

CMAL is the Harbour Authority at 16 locations, in addition CMAL operates a further 11 marine facilities across the West Coast of Scotland servicing the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services alongside a wide range of leisure and commercial customers.

What is a Harbour Authority

A Harbour Authority is a body which has been given statutory powers or duties through local legislation for the purpose of improving, maintaining, and managing a harbour.

The Harbours Act 1964

National legislation is legislation which is national, as opposed to local, in its effects. The Harbours Act 1964 is an important single piece of national legislation affecting Statutory Harbour Authorities.

The 1964 Act:—

  • Provides the legal framework to apply for various types of orders.
  • Modernised the system whereby harbour authorities may levy charges or dues on those using the harbour, and a procedure is laid down by the Act for making objections to ship, passenger, and goods dues (see sections 26-39).
  • Provision of harbour directions.
  • Delegation of certain functions.
  • Places a duty on harbour authorities to have consideration to environmental matters, including conservation, freedom of public access to places of natural beauty and the availability of facilities for visiting buildings, etc., of archaeological, architectural or historic interest.

The above is not a comprehensive list of functions contained within the 1964 Act.


Types of Orders include:

Harbour Revision Order

Orders under section 14 of the 1964 Act can be applied for by the Harbour Authority concerned in improving, maintaining or managing a harbour in the exercise and performance of statutory powers and duties, or by a person, or a body representing persons, having a substantial interest in the harbour. The order must be in the interests of the harbour and may be made for achieving all or any of the objects specified in Schedule 2 of the 1964 Act, which include varying duties and powers, for example, extending or modifying existing statutory powers.

Harbour Empowerment Order

Orders under section 16 of the 1964 Act may be applied for by any person whose objectives are the improvement, maintenance or management of a harbour, or the construction of a new harbour for which they are seeking statutory powers where such powers do not already exist. 

Local Legislation

Authorities derive their basic statutory powers and duties from local legislation. Until 1964, this legislation was always in the form of a private Act of Parliament (or in an order contained in, and confirmed by, an Act of Parliament). The Harbours Act 1964 introduced a system whereby such powers and duties can be conferred or varied by an order in the form of a statutory instrument made by Scottish Ministers.

Many Harbour Authorities were established by a private Act of Parliament, often in the nineteenth century (or earlier).

In many cases, a Harbour Authority’s local legislation will consist of several different Acts or Orders passed or made over a considerable period of time.

Additional legislation may have been required, for example, to authorise the construction of new harbour works such as piers or jetties, to modernise the powers to regulate the harbour or (more recently) to expand the range of activities which the authority may carry on at, or in connection with, the harbour.

These later pieces of legislation will often have repealed provisions in earlier Acts or Orders relating to the Harbour Authority. Care should therefore be taken in examining a Harbour Authority’s legislation to ensure that a provision has not been repealed or amended by a later piece of legislation.

The Port Marine Safety (the Code)

The Code sets out a national standard for every aspect of port marine safety. Its aim is to enhance safety for everyone who uses or works in the UK port marine environment. It is endorsed by the UK Government, the devolved administrations and representatives from across the maritime sector and while the Code is not mandatory, these bodies have a strong expectation that all harbour authorities will comply.

The Code is applicable both to statutory harbour authorities and to other marine facilities which may not have statutory powers and duties.

The Code refers to some of the existing legal duties and powers that affect organisations in relation to marine safety, but it does not in itself create any new legal duties. Although they are not mandatory, there are nevertheless several measures which are key to the successful implementation of the Code to ensure compliance.

The code can be accessed online:—

Port Marine Safety Code (publishing.service.gov.uk)

A key general duty of a harbour authority as set out in the Code is:—

Revising duties and powers: The harbour authority should keep its powers and jurisdiction under review and take account of the various mechanisms, such as harbour orders, which are available to amend statutory powers in an authority’s local legislation.”

CMAL and Harbour legislation

To comply with the Code, CMAL is required to ensure the legislation is relevant for the activity at each port; in addition, where marine works are required, CMAL must apply for statutory consent for the works through the formal harbour orders processes as set out by Transport Scotland.

CMAL will apply for harbour legislation where works are required and where powers/duties need to be revised.

These web pages will provide information regarding legislation currently being developed and promoted by CMAL.

Process for harbour orders

Transport Scotland manage the harbour orders process, they provide guidance on their website, the link is below.

Harbour orders | Transport Scotland

Contact CMAL

If you would like to contact CMAL at this time please email.



Harbour Legislation


Port Ellen

Harbour Legislation

Harbour Revision (Consolidation) Order

Harbour Legislation