Mooring Challenges Below Sunbury Lock

Yesterday RBOA received the following from the River Thames Alliance:

Please Note;  This has been circulated to all subscribing members for information – it is specific on Mooring Challenges.   Please distribute it to any person who might be interested within your organisation.



For many years there has been disquiet with recreational overnight moorings being used by long term residential craft.    This has caused concern to residents and recreational boaters and is of concern to local authorities and landowners from the source to at least Teddington.

With the cost of finding rental accommodation to purchase a boat to live on can be seen as an easy option.     However this boat has to have a mooring and provision of services, i.e. water and sewage.    With no electric hook up these boats typically rely on wood burners which are dangerous. –  Boats burning wood which has not been dried properly is environmentally polluting.

Finding residential moorings is difficult at this time.   The outcome is that these boats take moorings on public land, congregating in large groups.   This prevents use of recreational moorings preventing tourism and trade.  It also causes problems with disposal of rubbish and with the sound of generators.

The problem is river length on the non-tidal Thames from Teddington to Oxford.    It has come to a head below Sunbury Lock where the tow path is being fenced off by boats moored on land owned by the EA and Elmbridge Council.

There are diverse groups complaining to their councils, MPs and EA.   RTA Co Ltd provides an umbrella organisation where all these different groups can liaise.    The situation will be discussed by boaters attending the Thames User Group (Navigation) (TUGn) meeting on 26 March, RTA Mooring Group meeting on 16 April and will be on the Agenda for the Thames All Party Parliamentary Group meeting on 30 April in Westminster.    All Thames MPs are involved.

It is a serious growing problem and all endeavours have to be found to find answers.

15 March, 2019


River Thames Alliance Co Ltd formed in 2003 is a group to consider the sustainability of the River Thames into the future.    It is a non-profit limited company with a board of directors elected by the subscribing members. It published its Waterways Plan 2015 – 2021 and works to ensure the future of the Royal River with seven main segments covering Environment, Conservation, Planning, Tourism, Recreation, Navigation including moorings and Education.

Annual membership is only £25. Contact [email protected]

Rex Walden responded as follows, in his role as RBOA Vice Chairman:


I wish you had spoken to me before you issued this document; for the avoidance of doubt I am writing in my capacity as the Vice Chairman of RBOA..

Your first paragraph refers to the abuse of visitor moorings by residential boats. Name the moorings and show me the evidence that any such boats are actually being lived in.

Your second paragraph refers to boats being lived on must have a mooring with provision for water and sewage. You continue to feed the prejudice that liveaboard boaters pollute the river when you know very well that the huge majority use the appropriate facilities provided at marinas and by the EA. You continue by asserting, they typically use wood burners which are dangerous.  So obliquely you are suggesting they do not have a valid BSC. Wood burners are not inherently dangerous and the number of “polluting” wood burners on boats is dwarfed by the numbers of exactly similar stoves in the homes of the wealthy riparian residents to whom you are pandering.

Finding residential moorings is always difficult, in part because, planning approval is denied for 98% of applications. Typically, approval is recommended by officers and turned down by members of the planning committee due in part to the sort of prejudice that you are feeding. Yes, there are the sort of problems you describe but there are very few large groups and the vast majority of liveaboard boaters are responsible and take care not to cause offence. I notice when you refer to land being fenced off in Sunbury you don’t mention the householders who support the boaters, nor do you mention those who are themselves trying to seize ownership of the bank.

I thought you agreed we need more moorings and that we need to win hearts and minds on shore and afloat. All you have achieved in this missive is pander to the prejudice of the anti-boaters and alienate even further the community I represent.