Cables and pipelines

Cables and pipelines

To lay cables and pipelines on the seabed around Scotland – such as oil and gas pipelines, electricity and telecommunication cables – an organisation has to obtain a licence from Crown Estate Scotland. 

Our role

We provide licences which give developers the property rights they need to lay, maintain and operate cables and pipelines on the seabed up to 12 nautical miles from the shore.  


For details of the licences we offer and how to apply for them, please consult the sections below.

Applying for a licence

If you think you may need a licence, please contact us as early as possible so we can provide initial information to help you. You can then submit an application once you have fully planned your works.  

There are a few key things to bear in mind when you consider a licence application:

  • consents from the Scottish Government via Marine Scotland, the UK Government or the North Sea Transition Authority may also be required
  • we can grant an option agreement in advance of a licence. This gives rights over the option area and sets out the conditions which you must meet for the licence
  • if the new infrastructure will be close to existing agreements, you may need to reach crossing and proximity agreements with existing tenants nearby

Types of licence

The type of licence we grant, and the terms, will vary based on what you plan to lay.  

Pipelines are licensed as a single category.  

Telecoms cables are licensed depending on whether they are defined as international, local, transiting or wholly within 12nm.  

Offshore electricity cables fall into four categories: 

  • export cables which transmit electricity from offshore generating stations, such as wind farms, to shore. 
  • interconnectors which transfer electricity between countries. 
  • electricity transmission cables which transport larger quantities of electricity around the UK network. 
  • wayleaves and distribution cables which circulate power around the UK, principally for domestic use. 

Our licence terms are updated from time to time.

Our fees have been set following consultation with industry and third party experts and are charged consistently, except where specific circumstances merit a slight departure.  

Further information on fees can be found in our Heads of Terms documents, in the downloads section of this page.

Cables and pipelines beyond 12 nautical miles 

While most of our work involves infrastructure laid within 12 nautical miles of shore, there are some situations where we look beyond that boundary. 

We are responsible for licensing renewable energy generation in the zone between 12 and 200 nautical miles offshore. This means that, if you are laying cables to connect offshore wind farms to shore, you will need our permission for the full length of those electricity cables.

These rights are granted to either the wind farm developer or a dedicated Offshore Transmission Asset Owner (OFTO) – for further information see here.  All other types of cables are managed directly with the prospective owner. 

We also ask to be informed of cables and pipelines in the sea between the 12 and 200 nautical mile limit, as other activities may be impacted (please email details to This helps us provide up-to-date information to other seabed users.