National Consultation on Mooring Policy – a summary

As the actual document is a verbose web of spin and the meaty bits are hidden and dotted about, it might be useful to have this summary. The more people who print this and distribute it the better the chances of our voices making a difference.

Moorings Consultation – a summary.

The mooring consultation can be downloaded from

Response must be made by 31st January 2010

This will always be a work-in-progress so feel free to point to salient points missed or misunderstood.
It will not, in the first instance, offer any commentary on the proposals but will attempt to point out those points that directly affect liveboard boaters (primarily on the Kennet and Avon)

1. Scope

The consultation is national in scope and responses must be in by the end of January 2010. The consultation arises from a number of previous drafts and was initially drafted by WUSIG (Waterways User Special Interest Group) – who are dominated by APCO (Association of Pleasure Craft Operators, long term hippie haters) – with very little input from individual boaters.

This consultation is significantly different to and far more draconian than those earlier drafts.

The consultation broadly divides into 2 parts, residential boat mooring policy on the one hand and policies to ‘deal with’ 14 day and visitor mooring policies on the other.

The official consultation document contains a multiple choice response form. It is suggested that this is not used as the responses are weighted to produce the required result, though the consultation does contain a warning that responses not on this form may be disregarded.

The consultation is mainly a paper exercise with the real weight of the proposals being in a proposed trial on three ‘problem’ areas including our beloved western Kennet and Avon.

2. The consultation

BW state:

This consultation is about three related areas of moorings policy for BW waterways:
• where, and for how long, boats should be permitted to moor in areas of particularly high usage
• encouragement of long term mooring off the main line of the waterway
• moorings for residential boats

In the summary that follows i will use the term ‘BW states’ to mean what is stated in the consultation document

3. Summary

BW state a rapid growth in demand for mooring, illustrated with a graph, showing a rise in boat licences from 25, 000 to 35,000 in the last 10 years, current figures put the number of so-called ‘continuous cruisers’ at 3,500.

BW state that one of their aims is to strengthen the regime by which boats with no long term mooring use the canals.

It is stated that BW wish to devolve policy to local groups (‘stakeholders’ in their terminology) which include all local users of the canal, Parish Councils, walkers, angles for instance.

BW propose to introduce charging for ‘visitor’ moorings, enforced by local volunteers and drastically widen the areas to which these restrictions and charges would apply.

There is to be an encouragement of growth in marina spaces mainly led by private companies.

I do not intend at this time to cover the residential mooring consultation.

Points of particular interest

1.7 Most users want restrictions on mooring particularly on boats that ‘rarely move’.
This section states that other users of the canal have a problem with liveaboard boats. There is an attempt to link the demands of BW in the 1995 Act, that every boat should have a mooring and the current need for ‘rationing’.

1.12 Claim to legal status of proposals
BW claim that Section 43 of the 1962 Waterways act gives them enough power to implement everything in these proposals

3.2 Composition of steering groups
Steering groups will specifically exclude those who disagree with the legality of the proposals

3.13 Local trials
The Kennet and Avon is to be the subject of a trial for the zones and charges outlined below subject to a local consultation due in the week beginning 16th November

3.14 Compliance with mooring restriction is unsatisfactory.
Reasons stated: boaters don’t understand, boaters think they can ‘get away with it’ because of slack enforcement. An important item because it  omits to mention a lot of other reasons for non-compliance.

3.16 Zone proposais
The details of the ‘zones’ and levels of daily charges and proposals for collection

3.17 Enforcement by local volunteers (‘agents’)
It is proposed that the new regime be policed entirely by local volunteers

3.18 Local volunteers collecting daily charges and recording boat movement
Volunteers can collect fees and issue patrol notices

3.20 No licence renewal if overstaying charges are outstanding
If any charges are outstanding licences would not be renewed.

4. Point by point

numbers refer to the numbering in the consultation

Section 1 “Context”

1.1 there are 35,000 licenced boats, 20,000 in marinas.
1.2 90% of boats have a home mooring the rest are called by BW ‘continuous cruisers’ (3,500)
1.3 BW anticipate that there will now be a period of reduction in demand for licences due to the economy. Conversely they anticipate an increase in demand for boats as cheap housing.
1.4 BW survey say 20% (7,000) live aboard, with 12% (4,200) living as primary residence.
Demand v capacity
1.5 some canals (unstated) are showing signs of congestion
1.6 BW identify some locks as points of congestion but do not consider this as serious a problem as mooring space
1.7 Mooring provision should reflect customer requirement by not to the detriment of the use of the canals by non-customers”. It is stated that most users want restrictions on mooring particularly on boats that ‘rarely move’. It is stated that rationing is inevitable. It is claimed that this is the reason for legislation in the 1995 requiring a home mooring for those not ‘continuously navigating’
1.8 there is a table (appendix 1) stating the different mooring needs; casual mooring, visitor mooring, short-term mooring, long term mooring, residential mooring, leisure mooring, trade mooring. The first 3 are broadly synonymous with ‘visitor mooring’ meaning some sort of restriction is in place.
1.9 BW state that marina moorings are their ideal for leaving a boat unattended
1.10 BW state that they place limits on the number of supplied moorings in an area based on the capacity of the waterway for navigation
1.11 congestion at locks is seen as a prime criterion for 1.10 they invite views on acceptable waits for locks.
Legal Framework
1.12 BW is a public corporation managing the waterways through various Acts of Parliament. Section 43 of the 1962 Transport Act is cited as BW’s main justification for all charges and the setting of any terms and conditions. The 1995 makes further provision for the granting of licences, home mooring, 14 day rule, BSC, insurance. THis is given in detail in appendix 2
1.13 BW state there is no public duty to provide places for people to live ‘regardless of how needy they may be’
1.14 BW state that 1.2 gives them the powers to deal with ‘breached of mooring and licencing conditions’. They claim to be fair and reasonable, they say that they are ‘proud of their record’ in court actions. They also state that not all boaters agree with the above, some from the point of view of not accepting their interpretation in 1.2 and some who believe that BW does not take sufficient action. they state
“Some people call for stronger legislation – a call which we have considered but ruled out for the pragmatic reasons that more draconian powers are neither necessary nor likely to be granted and in any event would be very costly and controversial and would take a very long time to try to acquire. ’
Achieving fairness
1.15 Use of the law is not the only ‘tool’ for ‘fair rationing’ of ‘scarce water space’. BW hope to induce behavioural change through wider understanding.
1.16 BW see a need to establish what constitutes ‘shared understanding’
1.17 BW contend that pricing is seen as a fair means of distributing a scarce resource.
Statement of principles underlying BW policies
1.18 Boating is the core of BW business
1.19 Waterways are primarily for navigation. sufficient mooring should be available and there should be ‘breathing space’ between groups of moored boats.
1.20 Boater contribute to local business prosperity.
1.21 Continued growth must not be at the expense of the waterway environment.
1.22 There should be a mix of mooring types to meet demand from the different segments of the boating market and competition, where it exists, must be managed
1.23 Healthy competition between providers of moorings and facilities is good.
1.24 Fees paid for boater account for 20% of BW maintenance budget

Section 2 “Policies for moorings along the line of the waterway”

– wake up at the back there – this is IMPORTANT.

2.1 BW will develop local mooring strategies
2.2 Mooring restriction will be signed and daily charges will be introduced
2.3 Online long term mooring will be reduced to encourage greater use of marinas

Section 3 “Strategy and implementation”

Local mooring stategy ( see 2.1)
3.1 Local strategies will be limited to problem areas. BW intends that most of the network will remain free of restrictions.
3.2 Strategy should be developed by a ‘steering group’ of local ‘stakeholders’ with 1 or 2 BW employees. Membership of the steering group will be restricted to those who agree with the legal framework and BW’s legal right to enforce the new charges and rules.
3.3 The steering group will be chaired by a ‘stakeholder’ with relevent professional experience and qualification and demonstrate independence.
3.4 The steering group will prepare proposals for public consultation and manage feedback
3.5 Technical support will be provided by BW – statistics, maps but the ‘substantial proportion’ of the work will be done by local volunteers
3.6 The strategy must meet BW guidelines as well as those of the local councils, environment etc.
3.7 The strategy must attempt to meet the needs of all users and must involve fairly conducted local public consultation
3.8 A local mooring strategy will identify zones using the following classifications:

1. free casual mooring for up to 14 days – the unsigned default
2. free, time-limited mooring (signed)
3. short-term charged mooring (signed)
4. long term mooring (leisure / residential / trade ) (signed)
5. no mooring (signed)

3.9 Strategy will identify needs for disabled moorings
3.10 Strategy will allocate ‘trade’ moorings
3.11 Strategies must be accepted by the majority of all users and hangers on as reasonable and they should be self-financing.
3.12 strategies should have timescales and targets.
3.13 There will be 3 trials, on the K and A, the Lee Valley and the Shropshire Union. of concern to us;
” the western end of the Kennet & Avon Canal is the subject of concern amongst local councillors and boat operators who find the number of residential boaters basing themselves on casual or visitor moorings along the towpath to be unacceptable;”
There will be local 6 week consultations – the one for the Kennet and Avon will be issued to boaters when the boats are counted on the week beginning 16th October.
Proposed zoning arrangements for short term moorings (policy 2.2)
3.14 Compliance with mooring restriction is unsatisfactory. Reasons stated: boaters don’t understand, boaters think they can ‘get away with it’ because of slack enforcement.
3.15 Credibility of the enforcement process is essential.
3.16 Charging and Zone proposals

a. Zones;
Core zone: 4 – 48 hour restrictions
Outer zone: longer time limits
Middle zone: optional

b. Time limits are limits for free mooring, the more popular, the shorter the time limit.

c. people may move from the core zone to the outer zone

d. Time limits are added up, eg 24 hours in the core zone is subtracted form the time fro the outer zone so that hte total time is that of the outer zone (still keeping up?)

e. Zones will be ‘no return within a time limit – not specified

f. Overstaying will attract daily charges

g. Daily charges will be higher than a long term mooring (if available) collected through the sale of day permits priced by boat not by length

h. proposed charge is £10 per day.

i. boats overstaying without paying the daily charge will be towed away. This will be charged for.

Achieving compliance with zoning arrangements (policy 2.2) – AKA enforcement
3.17 Daily monitoring with local ‘agents’ not BW staff
3.18 ‘agents’ would sell day tickets and record boat movements and issue patrol notices
3.19 payment could be electronic with no visible ticket. Charges would accrue on a boater’s ‘account’
3.20 overdue fees would be added to a boater’ s account boat would not be licenced until the fees were paid.
3.21 no income forecast is given, the aim stated is that charges should pay for enforcement, fees as to be a deterrent to overstaying. surplus would go into the maintenance ‘pot’
3.22 the above is only to be enforced in identified ‘problem’ areas elsewhere signage would be advisory.
3.23 Appendix 3 contains examples of sign wording.
Long term moorings: controlling expansion and reducing online moorings (policy 2.3)
3.24 BW consent is required for all long term moorings
3.25 No new towpath mooring sites.
3.27 reduction of 1 online mooring for every 10 new marina moorings

Residential Moorings

There is much that may be of interest in this section but as it doesn’t really concern most of us, i don’t propose to summarise it. Suffice it to say that the main contention of the document is that BW want the local government planning process to be responsible for liveaboards on leisure moorings. (And it is understood that the planners want BW to deal with it).

to be continued…..

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One Response to “National Consultation on Mooring Policy – a summary”

  1. Hi,

    On reading the ‘points of particular interest’ I noticed that two sections – 3.17 and 3.18 – are misleading. At no point in either section is the word ‘volunteers’ used. Our proposal would be for local ‘agents’ – that is a locally based third-party acting on behalf of BW and paid for their services – to perform the monitoring and fees collection duties and MAY also be responsible for applying patrol notices but only under instruction from a BW enforcement officer.

    Damian Kemp
    Project Officer
    British Waterways