Increased cost for boat owners on EA waterways
From 2019 it will cost boaters more to register their vessels on waterways managed by the Environment Agency (EA).
Around 29,000 sailors who use the non-tidal River Thames and Upper Medway and Anglian Waterways, including the Great Ouse System and Stour, will face additional charges.
The increase could range from £6 to £100 over two years, depending on the size and type of boat, although specific costs vary by location.
The EA, which consulted on the increases, said the rise would bring in an extra £930,000 by 2021. This will help meet the shortfall between the cost of running the waterways and the income currently generated from annual boat registrations.
But the move has angered some boaters.
The Medway River Users Association worked with the EA on the consultation. Its chairman, Mark Smurthwaite, said many ideas were put forward to help the EA increase revenue without the boating community being penalised each year.
“We fully understand that there is a large shortfall between income and the cost of maintaining our river, but using the boating community to bridge this is extremely unfair,” he stated.“This is having, and will continue to have, the effect of driving people away from using our river.”
The Medway and Swale Boating Association represents boaters on the tidal Medway and Swale, but said many of its motor cruisers used the non-tidal Medway and Thames.
The association’s Tony Lavelle said while fee increases are “inevitable”, it is worried that such “swingeing price rises” will deter boaters.
“We are only one class of many users of the rivers and it is unfair to load most of the burden on our cruisers,” he stressed.
The EA manager of navigation, Mark Ormrod, said 98% of vessels that used its waterways were privately owned.
“We realise an increase in charges is never welcome news but it is essential to keep the levels of service and maintenance which boaters tell us is needed,” he stressed.
“In addition, we are exploring new income streams to make our service even better and to spread the cost among everybody who benefits from our waterways.”
In 2019 it will cost boat owners a lot more to cruise the Upper Medway including Maidstone in Kent