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Forming a moorings association

Moorings Associations are normally formed by groups of boat owners who help each other with, for example:

  • applying for necessary leases and consents and paying the fees required.
  • laying, maintaining and regulating moorings.
  • launching and recovering boats.
  • arranging access to the shore near the moorings.
  • storing dinghies, outboard motors etc.

Many Moorings Associations are WHAM members. Organisations interested in joining WHAM should complete the Full Member application. 

Most of the seabed surrounding Britain is the property of the Crown and it is administered by the Crown Estate in Scotland. Anyone wishing to attach anything to the seabed is required to apply to Crown Estate Scotland Coastal for a lease and to pay an annual rent. Such a lease will only be valid if navigational consent in accordance with the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 has been granted. The Acts are administered by the Marine Directorate to whom application must be made for a license.

The moorings need not necessarily all be in one area; an association may obtain a lease and consent to enable it to administer several areas in an area. It is normally better to apply for a mooring area rather than for individual mooring positions so that there is space for more moorings as further boat owners make application in the future. If the proposed mooring area is clear, then application should be made for an Exclusive Lease. This means that the Moorings Association would have complete control over the area. But if there are already licensed moorings in it whose owners do not wish to join the association, then a lease can be applied for excluding the existing moorings.

If the area desired is in the vicinity of a designated anchorage, i.e. it is identified by an anchor symbol on an Admiralty chart or it is listed in the Clyde Cruising Club’s Sailing Directions, it would be wise to check with WHAM that the moorings are not likely to be regarded by the Scottish Government as an obstruction to navigation. Many mooring areas are in or near anchorages and, where appropriate, the Crown Estate Community Marine Officer for the area is likely to require that provision is made to preserve reasonable anchorage space.

The WHAM Secretary will be happy to offer advice based on WHAM’s over thirty years of experience with moorings associations.


Crown Estate Scotland

Paul Bancks, Asset Manager for Crown Estate Scotland, explains their role in managing moorings in Scotland: “Demand for mooring and anchorage space in Scotland is high. With over 5,000 moorings licensed in Scotland, we take a lead role in managing the provision of mooring space for the boating community.

We have three Community Marine Officers, one in Argyll, one in Largs and one based in Wester Ross, working with a wide range of people in the west and north of Scotland where the majority of moorings are found. As well as working closely with WHAM, we also maintain close links with other bodies with an interest in moorings such as the Scottish Government, Northern Lighthouse Board, RYA Scotland and the Clyde Moorings Committee.

Members of WHAM are part of a network of around 120 Moorings Associations across Scotland, and play a key role in the management of our coastal waters. Once established, a Moorings Association is given a licence for an area of seabed enabling it to manage the moorings in its specific area for the benefit of its members and the local community.

We see the management of moorings very much as a partnership and are extremely grateful for all the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who run local Moorings Associations, playing their part in the sustainable management of some of the best sailing waters in Europe.”