In­creased cost for boat own­ers on EA wa­ter­ways

Practical Boat Owner - - News -

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

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