CRT unlawfully set minimum distance of “15 to 20 miles” after denying any such statement exists

In a statement on Facebook late on Friday 6th March, CRT stated that boats without a home mooring must travel a minimum range in excess of 15 to 20 miles in order to comply with Section 17 (3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. The same statement was added in the middle of its enforcement web page here https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/licensing/enforcement. Just the day before, CRT responded to a Freedom of Information request saying that no such statement existed here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/how_far_should_i_travel_to_compl#incoming-625206.

CRT has done this despite the fact that Section 17 (3)(c)(ii) does not state any requirement to travel a minimum distance, does not define “place” and does not specify any time period that a boat must be absent from a place before returning to it. Indeed, in December 2012 CRT conceded that it would be going beyond its powers if it set a minimum distance in its Towpath Mooring Q and A – a document that has mysteriously disappeared from its web site. You can download this document here Towpath Mooring Q and A

We understand that CRT is not planning to continue the use of “neighbourhoods” on the K&A after the Interim 12-month Local Plan finishes on 30th April. This means that anyone who has been subject to enforcement action on the grounds that they have not been sighted in enough “neighbourhoods” over a specific time period should complain and demand that the enforcement action be ended and the enforcement letters withdrawn.

This move suggests that CRT may also drop its plans to publish system-wide maps that purport to define the places that boats without home moorings must travel between to be considered to have moved to a new place. This is not surprising given that these maps deleted many places from the maps and amalgamated others into bigger places (using the words “neighbourhood”, “locality” and “area”) in defiance of centuries of history and geography. If CRT does adopt this system it will rapidly become clear that it is unworkable as well as unlawful.

This is CRT’s statement:

Following our recent communication, a number of boaters have asked for clarification of the legal requirement to cruise throughout the period of their licence and, in particular, what is the minimum distance that should be covered in order to comply with the Trust’s Guidance for Boaters without a Home Mooring.

We recognise that boaters want clarity over this. However the BW Act 1995 does not stipulate a minimum distance. It does set out the requirement to use the boat bona fide for navigation, and the Trust’s Guidance is our interpretation of this requirement.

Whilst this means that we cannot set a universal minimum distance for compliance, we can advise that it is very unlikely that someone would be able to satisfy us that they have been genuinely cruising if their range of movement is less than 15-20 miles over the period of their licence. In most cases we would expect it to be greater than this.

We will be advising those boaters without a home mooring whose range of movement falls short of this distance that their movement needs to increase or we may refuse to renew their licence. Our statutory right to refuse to renew a licence arises from section 17 of the BW Act 1995 which states that we can refuse to issue a licence if we are not satisfied that a boat either has a home mooring or intends to continuously cruise.

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