CRT press release signals continued attack on boaters without home moorings

Just hours before the K and A  Local Waterway Partnership (LWP) was due to hold its first moorings sub-group meeting to review the local mooring strategy proposals, CRT issued a press release detailing its plans to continue eroding the rights of CRT licence holders to use the waterways without a home mooring under Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act. The timing of the press release appears to be a warning shot across the bows of the LWP to discourage it from getting too independent. This could prevent the LWP from coming up with a plan that will uphold the rights of boaters without a home mooring as well as addressing the concerns of other waterway users.

The press release includes a briefing paper on “Non-Compliant Continuous Cruising” for the CRT Council, which discussed continuous cruising on 27th September. We will publish a more detailed analysis of why the proposals are unlawful shortly. The briefing paper proposes enforcement action that is contrary to what Parliament intended when it passed Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act. It details methods of dealing with people whose boat use is not within “the spirit of the legislaion”. This is ironic, because the law was made deliberately vague in order to accommodate a wide range of different cruising patterns, according to one of the boaters who gave evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee as petitioners against the original bill and who attended the Committee hearings.

Bill Etherington MP, a member of the Commons Select Committee said in 1994 “I do not think anyone who has sat on this side was ever of the opinion that we wanted to see people in any circumstances forced off the waterway”. George Mudie MP, Chair of the Commons Select Committee, said “There are stretches of river that it would not matter if I stayed 20 years” and  “So all this fuss is about under 1,000 boats … amongst those … may be people we do not want to hurt, and there is no reason why we should hurt them”. If anything reflects “the spirit of the legislation”, it is this wish by the Chair of the Select Committee that carried out the final drafting of the 1995 Act that the law should be cast widely enough to prevent people from being hurt by it.

Here is the CRT Council briefing paper 27_09_12 _CRT Council briefing non compliant cont cruising

You can read the press release below:

25 October 2012
Trustees and Council give green light for mooring rules

At meetings in September, the Canal & River Trust’s governing Council and Trustees agreed its interpretation of the law relating to continuous cruising.  They also gave backing to a number of new initiatives designed to address misuse of the licensing and mooring rules, including specific proposals for two hotspot areas on the Kennet & Avon Canal and in London.

Simon Salem, marketing director of the Canal & River Trust, said: “The number of people opting to license their boats without a mooring on the basis that they will continuously cruise has increased by 37 per cent since 2007 to 4,400. Most enjoy the waterways and use their boat ‘bona fide’ for navigation in the spirit of the legislation. However, our regular boat sightings give us reason to believe that up to half of people opting to continuously cruise are not currently not doing so within the terms of their licence.”

The Trust’s policy and plans include:

·         greater clarity for continuous cruisers on how to comply with the licence terms, backed by sufficient enforcement to avoid continued growth of non-compliance;

·         stronger enforcement of maximum time limits at visitor moorings, including new signage showing a limit of total days per month as well as the maximum stay time for a single visit;

·         the introduction of extended stay charges to deter overstaying, backed by more frequent site visits by the Trust’s enforcement team; and

·         a strategic role for the Trust’s Waterway Partnerships in identifying priority areas for action.

At hot spot locations on the western end of Kennet & Avon Canal and within London, the Canal & River Trust is already discussing local solutions in collaboration with local boaters.  Nationally there will be more focus on validating new applications for boat licences from boaters without a home mooring, and strengthening boater education in respect of boat licence terms and conditions.

Simon concludes: “The initiatives being announced are good news for the overwhelming majority of boat owners who should not be deterred from exploring parts of the network currently popular with non-compliant continuous cruisers.  It is also good news for those continuous cruisers who, although they may have been long-established and have set up home in a particular area, wish to work with the Trust to comply with the terms of their licence.

“Those who live aboard at their home mooring and those continuously cruising within the spirit of the legislation will not be adversely affected by the new initiatives.”

Alan Wildman, chair of the Residential Boat Owners Association (RBOA), comments: “The Residential Boat Owners’ Association welcomes the commitment to tackle the question of non-compliant continuous cruising patterns. RBOA recognises that Canal & River Trust is making a commendable effort to assist those whose present lifestyle falls outside the present Continuous Cruising licence terms. In line with our own policy, RBOA urges those who are non-compliant to work with the Trust and RBOA to resolve this issue once and for all. There is certainly no desire to drive anyone from the inland waterways, only to find a way of us all to work and live together in harmony and within the rules.”

Paul Roper, Chairman of IWA’s Navigation Committee, comments: “IWA has been concerned about this issue and so welcomes the acceptance by the Canal & River Trust that something needs to be urgently done about the problems caused by non-compliant continuous cruisers, and in fact any one over staying, especially on visitor moorings. We look forward to a prompt resolution of this matter for the benefit of all users, whilst having proper regard to applying sympathetic transitional arrangements for any residential boaters who may currently be in default.”

The briefing and policy paper agreed by the Canal & River Trust Council and Trustees at their September meetings is available to view at: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/council-papers.

Ends

For media enquiries please contact Jonathan Ludford on 020 7985 7275 or email jonathan.ludford@canalrivertrust.org.uk

Jonathan Ludford
National Communications Manager
Canal & River Trust
020 7985 7275
07747 897783

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One Response to “CRT press release signals continued attack on boaters without home moorings”

  1. Editor MonsterID Icon Editor says:

    A boater has texted: “Think the press release is war … really upset at content”.

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