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Harbour Revision Order FAQs

What is a Harbour Revision Order (HRO)?

We are consulting on introducing a Harbour Revision Order (HRO) for Exeter. A HRO is a set of rules which govern what the authority can do and the powers that it has within the boundaries of the harbour in Exeter.


Why does the Council need an HRO?

A key driver for the HRO is our ongoing commitment to complying with the Port Marine Safety Code (November 2016) published by the Department for Transport ("the Code").

The Code identifies a number of tasks which harbour authorities should undertake in order to comply with the Code. This includes reviewing and being aware of existing powers based on local and national legislation. It advises that harbour authorities should seek additional powers if the existing powers are insufficient to meet their obligations to provide safe navigation. In particular, paragraph 2.5 of the Code states “… harbour authorities would be well advised to secure powers of general direction or harbour direction to support the effective management of vessels in their harbour waters if they do not have them already”.

Although we do have powers of Harbour Direction, we do not have powers of General Direction. Therefore, we are seeking to obtain modern powers of General Direction. Designation with powers of General Direction is an important tool which will assist us with compliance with the Code.

We also consider it desirable desirable in the interests of securing the improvement, maintenance and management of the Port in an efficient and economical manner, that we are provided with a set of modern flexible statutory powers (and that the majority of the current local statutory harbour legislation is repealed). The modernised and additional powers included in the HRO are reflective of those included in other recent local authority HROs, such as the Cornwall Harbours Harbour Revision Order 2023 and the Weymouth Harbour Revision Order 2021.


When will we be consulted and when will the HRO documents be made available?

We recognise that benefit of local consultation with port stakeholders. Therefore, we will be offering port stakeholders an advanced opportunity to consider the HRO application documents. This is with a view to resolving any queries prior to the 42-day formal consultation which is anticipated to take place later in 2024.

The following draft documents will be made available to download between 1 February and 14 March 2024:

The Port Premises Plan can be seen in this map:

View larger version of this map. Alternatively download a printable version of the Port Premises Plan.

In addition, the we have arranged three drop-in sessions where port stakeholders can discuss their comments in-person with us. These drop-in sessions will take place as follows:

  • Monday 19 February, 6.00pm to 7.30pm at the Starcross Fishing & Cruising Club, Brunel Tower, The Strand, Starcross, Exeter EX6 8PR.
  • Tuesday 20 February, 6.00pm to 7.30pm at the Exe Sailing Club, Tornado, Shelly Rd, Exmouth, EX8 1EG.
  • Wednesday 21 February, 6.00pm to 7.30pm at the Exe Watersports Association, 62 Haven Rd, Exeter, EX2 8GP.

Each session is being held at a different location within the local area to provide port stakeholders with an equal opportunity to attend.


What area does the HRO cover?

Our area of jurisdiction under the HRO is described fully in Schedule 1 to the Harbour Revision Order (limits of port). This area is shown for illustrative purposes on the port limits plan and includes the River Exe (shaded purple), the Exe Estuary (shaded blue), and the Exeter Ship Canal (shaded green). The area of jurisdiction includes the ‘port premises’ (defined in article 2(1)) which are shown separately for illustrative purposes on the Port Premises Plan.

There is some confusion about whether Topsham Quay is included as part of the port limits (which include the ‘port premises’). The Council can confirm that it is.


What if I own land within the Port below mean high water spring tides?

The HRO does not impact land ownership below mean high water spring tides.

The area shown on the Port Limits Plan only shows the area of jurisdiction of the statutory harbour authority. This has nothing to do with land ownership below the level of mean high water spring tides and, therefore, the port limits may include land/fundus owned by others.


How will ship, passenger and goods dues be set?

Although we do not currently levy goods dues at the Port or ship dues outside of Exeter Ship Canal, we already have the power to levy such ship, passenger and goods dues as we think fit under section 26 of the Harbours Act 1964.

Under article 10 of the HRO, there is a modern power to levy the equivalent of ship, passenger and goods dues in relation to vessels which are not ‘ships’ (such as jet bikes). This provision is consistent with similar powers contained in other HROs, for example the Cornwall Harbours Harbour Revision Order 2023 which applies to 10 different local authority harbours throughout Cornwall.

Section 31 of the Harbours Act 1964 contains a statutory right of challenge to the Secretary of State in respect of such dues.

The amount of any ship, passenger and goods dues which might be set is a separate topic – this does not relate to the HRO (because the HRO does not set the level of them).

As such, the setting of ship, passenger and goods dues does not form part of this consultation.


How will stakeholders be involved in decision-making once the HRO is in force?

The HRO recognises the importance of keeping local stakeholders fully informed and the benefit of consultation. As such, it introduces the following mechanisms which safeguard the interests of stakeholders:

The Port Advisory Group

The Port already has a well-established Port User Group. Article 31 of the HRO puts this user group (or any other additional or replacement stakeholder group) on a statutory basis, meaning that we are required to continue to have a Port User Group (or groups), known under the HRO as the ‘Port Advisory Group’.

This article states we “must (except in an emergency) consult [the Port Advisory Group] on all matters substantially affecting the management, maintenance, improvement, conservation, protection or regulation of the port and its navigation.”

As such, the HRO introduces a strong local consultation requirement.

Consultation for General Directions

We are applying for a modern power of General Direction under article 20 of the HRO. There is a statutory right for ‘designated consultees’ to be consulted about proposed general directions (see article 21(1)(a) and (b)), including the Port Advisory Group. Representations received from the designated consultees will be considered by us and, if they object to proposed general directions and those concerns are unable to be resolved, there is a statutory adjudication process contained in article 21.

Due to the inclusion of the Port Advisory Group as a designated consultee, the power contains a strong local consultation requirement. Note that other ‘designated consultees’ include the Royal Yachting Association, the Chamber of Shipping and “such other persons or organisations as it [the Council] considers appropriate for the purposes of the application of this provision”.

Inspection of Key Documents

The HRO includes provisions requiring several key documents to be kept available online on this website. These documents include:

  • The “illustrative plan” referred to in article 4(d)
  • The Port Business Plan referred to in article 5(3)
  • The register of all in force general directions referred to in article 20(4)

The HRO also requires these documents to be available for inspection at:

  • Harbour Patrol Office, Trinity Buoy Store, Camperdown Terrace, Exmouth, EX8 1EQ; and
  • Exeter Canal Office, Haven Road, Exeter, EX2 8FD


What about speed limits, vessel registration, and regulation of kayaks, canoes, jet bikes etc.?

The HRO is a statutory instrument designed to consolidate and modernise the statutory powers and duties applying to us. It is not designed to provide for specific regulations, such as registration of vessels or speed limits etc.

These types of provisions may be considered separately under future general directions and / or byelaws. It should be noted that we are being given modern powers to create both under the HRO. The definition of “vessel” contained in the HRO is reflective of other modern HROs and encompasses all types of watercraft, such as kayaks, canoes and jet bikes within its scope.

It is anticipated in the future that we will develop a single set of general directions which cover such matters, following consultation with local stakeholders (including the Port Advisory Group being established under the HRO). Consultation with the Port Advisory Group (except in emergencies) is a statutory requirement being introduced under the HRO and as such stakeholders can be assured that sufficient consultation will take place.


Will shore side facilities be improved?

The proposed HRO is a non-works HRO and, as such, does not impact the provision of shoreside facilities. It is not capable of authorising works projects.


Will the navigation channel in the River Exe be dredged?

The HRO includes a modern power to dredge the Port, replacing the existing powers which are being repealed. It is not expected that the current dredging regime will change. We will dredge as and when we consider it appropriate.


How will I know when the formal 42-day statutory consultation has started / where can I get the documents?

It is anticipated that the formal consultation will not commence until the late spring / summer 2024. (this is due to the number of Harbour Order applications the MMO are processing).

There are statutory notice requirements which will be complied with. These include publishing a public notice for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper circulating locally to the Port and once in the London Gazette. We will also place site notices in several places around the Port for extra visibility (although it is not a statutory requirement).

The documents will be available for inspection at the following locations within the Port throughout the statutory consultation period:

  • Harbour Patrol Office, Trinity Buoy Store, Camperdown Terrace, Exmouth, EX8 1EQ; and
  • Exeter Canal Office, Haven Road, Exeter, EX2 8FD

The documents will also be available for inspection at the offices of the MMO at Harbour Orders Team, Marine Management Organisation, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 7YH and will be available online at the Harbour Orders Public Register.

When this content has been updated

Last updated 21 February 2024