Canal & River Trust (CRT) – Updated Boat Licence Terms & Conditions

RBOA’s View

CRT and most of the major boating organisations have long been in discussion regarding a relatively small minority of boaters who abuse stay time limits on public moorings. The repeated demand from the boating organisations, on behalf of their widespread memberships, has been for CRT to step up enforcement action against this non-compliant minority.

CRT asked the organisations, including RBOA, for our views as regards interpretation of the deliberately vague terms “place” and “bona fide navigation” as they appear in current waterways legislation. The organisations could not agree and eventually took the combined stance that it was for CRT to act upon its own interpretation; it was not our (combined) place to interpret the law.

In response, to try and create clarity from unclear legislation, CRT has developed its revised Licence Terms & Conditions, guidance for boaters without home moorings and strengthened enforcement policies and procedures.

Some have already challenged these attempts to give boat owners clarity as regards what is expected of them to avoid enforcement action, but CRT does believe it is acting within its legal obligations in order to deal firmly but fairly with the minority of boaters that simply refuse to obey the rules.

So, where does RBOA stand as regards these recent developments?

Residential boating in all its various forms has enjoyed growing popularity for a number of years now but recently RBOA, through its many contacts, has started to sense a change in attitude, particularly amongst our boating peers. Rightly or wrongly (more often than not, we suspect wrongly) many assume that overstaying boats are mainly live-aboards without home moorings but not genuinely being used bona-fide for navigation. Terms such as “bridge hoppers” and “continuous moorers” are frequently heard. Without something being done to help non-compliant boaters understand what is required of them, we risk seeing residential boating descend into disrepute. It is part of our (RBOA) reason for being, to do our best to avoid that happening.

Over many years, RBOA committee has amassed considerable experience as to how to deal with these situations. In today’s social and financial climate, knee jerk reaction, going in all guns blazing, is rarely the way to achieve the best outcomes.

It is our intention, for what we believe is the good of residential boating as a whole, particularly on CRT waters, to watch how the situation unfolds, be ready to help any of our members that get into trouble or feel they are being treated unfairly and take any such cases direct to CRT for resolution. Once we see if/how the new CRT policies are working, we will then be in a position to go back to CRT with reasoned cases for further change to protect our chosen, floating lifestyles.

RBOA believes there is more to be gained by working with CRT than constantly fighting against it. That does not mean we are “in CRT’s pocket” (to coin a phrase); rather that we have become a sufficiently mature organisation to know what we need and more importantly understand how best to obtain it in these modern times.