Up to half of the 4,400 ‘live-aboards’ – people living on boats on canals and rivers – ‘are not doing so within the terms of their licence’ according to the Canal and River Trust. And the number of people opting to license their boats on CRT waterways without a mooring – on the basis that they will continuously cruise – has increased by 37% since 2007.
At recent meetings, the 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. 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 plus stronger enforcement of maximum time limits at visitor moorings.
UPDATE 16 November 2012
The Trust’s interpretation of the law got further backing in the High Court when Mrs Justice Cox DBE fully endorsed the CRT 2011 ‘Guidance For Boaters Without A Home Mooring’as a correct interpretation of the law. She refused permission for Nick Brown, a leading figure in the National Bargee Travellers Association, to have the Guidance judicially reviewed. Mr Brown challenged the Guidance as unlawful under a number of grounds and arguments, all of which Mrs Justice Cox rejected.
Western end of Kennet & Avon Canal, a non-compliance hot-spot.
Specific proposals for two hotspot areas on the Kennet & Avon Canal and in London include 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.There will be new signage showing a limit of total days per month as well as the maximum stay time for a single visit and the introduction of extended stay charges to deter overstaying. This will be backed by more frequent site visits by the CRT’s enforcement team and will form a strategic role for the Trust’s Waterway Partnerships in identifying priority areas for action.
CRT marketing director Simon Salem said – “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.”
The Residential Boat Owners’ Association has welcomed “the commitment to tackle the question of non-compliant continuous cruising patterns.”