These Regulations apply to marine works covered by the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, the Coast Protection Act 1949 and any harbour works.

They specify in which circumstances an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required under the EIA Directive for marine works and the exceptions to this, for example, where the project serves a national defence purpose. The Regulations set out the process for obtaining an EIA, such as the publicity, consultation and notification requirements, as well as dealing with screening and scoping where appropriate.

It has become apparent that the Regulations as drafted do not fully implement the EIA Directive into UK law, because the definition of harbour works does not cover the dredging and extraction of marine minerals. The Regulations are therefore to be amended so that in future they will also apply to minerals dredging in harbours. The effect of this is that, prior to a Harbour Authority determining an application for marine mineral extraction, the Marine and Fisheries Agency may need to grant an "EIA consent" if the extraction is classed under the EIA Directive as an "Annex I" project or an "Annex II" project which it is determined should be subject to an EIA that would have significant effects on the environment.

The change will come into force on 1 October 2009 under the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment)(Amendment)(England and Wales) Regulations 2009.