Environment Agency
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Boaters in deep water for dodging fees on the River Thames

Courts issue fines for failing to register boats on the River Thames. Environment Agency enforcement officers regularly patrol the river.

A couple of boat-owners have been fined for failing to register their boats for use on the non-tidal River Thames, following successful prosecutions by the Environment Agency. All boats kept or used on the Thames must be registered annually or risk prosecution and a fine.

The money the Environment Agency collects from boat registration fees contributes to the maintenance of 600 miles of navigable rivers, locks and weirs across England – mainly on the River Thames, the country’s largest river.

Environment Agency waterways manager Maria Herlihy said:

Prosecution is always a last resort. We gave the defendants ample opportunity to pay their boat registration fees, but their refusal left us with no choice but to take them to court.

Anyone who uses the River Thames for boating should expect to contribute towards the upkeep of the river.

Environment Agency waterways enforcement officers patrolling the River Thames spotted that the boats were not registered with the agency’s national licensing system. In both cases, the officers affixed warnings of the offence to the boats, which were moored to the riverbank.

Checking again a few weeks later, the officers found the boats had still not been registered. A second 7-day warning was given, and then – as the boats remained unregistered – court proceedings commenced.

As well as contributing to the upkeep of the river, boat registration helps to ensure that boats are safe and are insured.

Carl Wych, of Bray Boats, Ray Mead Road, Maidenhead, entered a guilty plea at East Berkshire magistrates’ court on Friday 19 April, to charges relating to his boat, Orion. He was convicted of breaching the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010, fined £200 and ordered to pay compensation of £1,056.21, costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £80.

The Maidenhead owner of this unregistered boat has had to pay a £200 fine and costs and compensation of well in excess of £1,000.

Peter Jones, of Dormers Wells Lane, Southall, pleaded guilty at Staines magistrates’ court on 23 April, to charges relating to his boat, Bairns Pride. He was convicted of breaching the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010 and – as he had also failed to move his boat from short-stay moorings at Desborough Island, Walton-on-Thames – the Thames Conservancy Act 1932. He was fined £100 and ordered to pay compensation of £1,906.30, costs of £275 and a victim surcharge of £40.

The compensation is equal to the annual boat registration fees that should have been paid, covering the period 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.

Ms Herlihy added:

We have enforcement officers patrolling the River Thames every day, checking boat registrations for the current year. If anyone has a boat on the river and hasn’t yet registered it, you are at risk of a fine.

Registering your boat is easy and avoids entirely unnecessary additional costs arising from a day in court.

Owners of all types of boats, including paddleboards, must register their boats with the Environment Agency for use on the non-tidal River Thames.

Boat registration on the Thames starts on 1 January every year. Any boats found on the water after that date, without having registered, may be liable to a fine.

Boats can be registered by calling 03708 506 506 or going to www.gov.uk/register-a-boat.

Contact us:

Journalists only: 0800 141 2743 or communications_se@environment-agency.gov.uk.


Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/boaters-in-deep-water-for-dodging-fees-on-the-river-thames

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