The Environment Agency has announced that from 2022, boat owners will have to pay more to use or keep their vessels on the waterways it manages. It is also consulting on changes to the current registration scheme
Boat registration fees will increase from January 2022 for all boat owners who keep or use their vessels on Environment Agency (EA) waterways.
All boats kept or used on the non-tidal Thames, the Upper Medway or Anglian waterways, including the rivers Great Ouse, Nene, Stour, Ancholme, Welland and Glen, must be registered with the EA.
The boat registration charges contribute to the operation of the waterways as well as the upkeep and management of the rivers, locks and facilities.
The EA says currently registration charges don’t cover the cost of services provided to boat owners, and without the changes, it would be faced with £2 million of under-recovered costs over the next three years.
Boat registration charges will rise over a three year period with a 6% increase in the first year (from January 2022), 4% in the second year and held for the final year.
The EA also wants to replace the current boat registration scheme, which it says can be inconsistent and complicated for customers, with a ‘fairer and simpler charging regime across its three main waterway areas.’
It is consulting on the plans which include a new charging framework and proposed changes to the requirements for the registration of business boats.
It is also seeking views on some future proposals including online boat registration, boat naming and identification, charging on the River Wye and the introduction of a rolling year to its boat registration charges.
Details of the consultation can be found here.
The public have until 16 September 2021 to respond.
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The EA’s deputy director of navigation, Alice Mayne said boat registration charges ‘are hugely important for keeping our waterways open and making sure they are safe for both recreational boaters and those who rely on them for business.’
‘Our waterways also receive income from other sources, including the government and commercial activities, but for a number of years our funding has not met our investment needs, and this has impacted our standards of service and the condition of our navigation infrastructure and facilities. That’s why we are proposing a simpler, fairer and more transparent charging system that is consistent across our waterways,’ she continued.
‘This is something our customers have told us they want, and following extensive engagement, we have now incorporated their feedback into our final plans. This additional funding will make us more financially resilient and ensure we can provide a more sustainable service,’ added Mayne.
The EA has 18,000 direct boat registration customers, mainly made up of private boat owners with 160 small river businesses.
Overall there are 28,000 registered boats on the EA’s waterways, with 98% private and 2% business; 80% are powered boats and 20% unpowered.
The new charging proposals are also part of the Environment Agency’s new Navigation Business Plan that sets out a sustainable future for its waterways.
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