Thames moorings 'not in the Thames' states EA!

Published: Thursday, 27 July 2017

UNBEKNOWN to boaters, it has transpired that the Environment Agency are not allowed to charge for overnight moorings on the Thames, though of course it does!

It was the result of Freedom of Information requests by a boater that unearthed this information, being concerned not only of unlawful charges but unregulated collection of data by a third party, and David Mercer writes:


Following up my concerns about aspects of the [visitor mooring] scheme, including unlawful charges for overnight mooring and unregulated collection of data by a third-party, in January I asked the Environment Agency via a FoI request for a copy of the contract or agreement between them and TVM in relation to the scheme. They refused on the basis that no such contract or agreement existed. They persisted with that response following an internal review so I made a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. I found it unacceptable that the EA appeared to have no controls to ensure that personal data collected by TVM was being adequately safeguarded.

Today I received the result of the ICO investigation. Whilst it confirms that there appears to be no contract or agreement in place and thus it cannot be supplied, it also confirms that the EA has now ordered TVM to stop collecting data until a Contract meeting the requirements of the Data Protection Act is in place. (As an aside, I telephoned TVM today and the gentleman there indicated that he would still be quite happy to collect my personal data on behalf of the EA. He even referred to the agreement between TVM and the EA!)

Charging for mooring

 There was another aspect to my FoI request. I asked the EA for sight of any legislation which over-rides Section 136 of the Thames Conservancy Act 1932 (as amended by Section 23 of the TCA 1972). That legislation clearly prohibits the EA from charging for mooring at night at any mooring place owned or provided by them. The EA rather skated round the issue in their original responses to me although they did claim that references on the TVM signs and website to mooring 'at night' were an unfortunate oversight and had now been removed.

Now, they seemed to have changed tack and tell me, via the Information Commissioner, that their Thames visitor moorings are not 'within' the Thames and thus are not subject to the Thames Conservancy Acts! I find it virtually impossible to comprehend how a floating vessel can be temporarily moored 'without' the Thames, particularly given the recent High Court judgement made in favour of the EA that all locks, cuts and works within the river formed part of the Thames. As you know, the definition of ‘works’ was confirmed to cover even adjacent water marinas so it is inconceivable that it does not cover in-line moorings.