Brief Advice

This is the content of the handout to boaters given out at the meeting at the Bell, 28th September 2009.


BW CAN enforce the 14-day rule. However, this should begin with giving you 28 days to move the boat (Section 17, British Waterways Act 1995).

BW SHOULD NOT force boats without a home mooring to wider their cruising area or to be on a progressive journey. The Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers is not part of the law. We believe BW is acting beyond its powers if it does this.

If you live on your boat BW MUST take you to court so that you can defend yourself against removal of your boat under Section 8 of the British Waterways Act 1983 (Articles 6 and 8, Human Rights Act/ European Convention on Human Rights).

BW has issued between 100 and 200 patrol notices and threatening CC1 or CC2 letters to boats in the Bath to Bradford on Avon area since June 2009. Many boaters without a mooring who do move every 14 days have had these letters telling them their cruising area is too small and threatening them with Section 8.

BW do pressurise boaters to take (winter or permanent) moorings in order to make money.

If you make any verbal agreement with BW in person or by phone, it is a good idea to write and ask BW to confirm it in writing. If BW refuse, write again saying you will not abide by the verbal agreement unless you have it in writing. Make notes of all conversations and phone calls.

If you’re not satisfied with the way BW has treated you, make a complaint. Address your complaint to John Ward, Acting General Manager, BW South West (address below).
Write to: British Waterways South West, The Dock Office, Commercial Rd, GLOUCESTER GL1 2EB. Address your letter to the person you made the agreement with. If you have internet access, the complaints procedure is on the BW web site:

Here is a suggested reply to patrol notices and CC1 letters:

“I have always complied with British Waterways’ legal requirements regarding movement of my boat and I intend to continue complying with these legal requirements. I have always cruised in compliance with Section 17 (3) (c) of the British Waterways Act 1995 and with Condition 2 (Use of the Boat) of the General Terms and Conditions for Boat Licences. I do not understand why you think I have not done so. You mention the Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers. This states quite clearly that it is guidance, that it is an interpretation of the law, and “does not have the force of law” (Note 1). Therefore, it is not a legal requirement. The 1995 Act and Condition 2 of the boat licence do not require boats to conform to a particular cruising pattern.”

For the wording of Section 17 of the Waterways Act 1995

Section 17 (3)

Section 17 (4) and (5)