Too many boats in London

Published: Friday, 16 October 2020

THERE are so many moored boats in London that mooring is a near impossibility.

It is so bad that Canal & River Trust is starting a discussion with boaters and other stakeholders on how to manage the busy London waterways, asking what approach should be taken for managing very congested areas, and how respondents can help.

RegentsCanalMooredMore than doubled in ten years

Over the past decade the Trust tells it has seen the number of boats using the London waterways more than double to a record high and this trend is continuing, adding that without additional measures to manage the areas of highest demand, it is likely that the ever-growing number of boats will impact on everyone’s enjoyment of the waterways.

 Boaters and other stakeholders are invited to share their views, using an online survey or in writing, and the Trust will be holding virtual meetings online to hear ideas and answer questions. This initial engagement will take place between mid-October 2020 and early January 2021.

In parts of central and inner London, mooring space and boater facilities are already under pressure. The Trust has no legal powers to stop or restrict the number of licensed boats on the water, so creative solutions to help manage growing boat numbers are necessary to address these challenges.

Growing liveaboard population

The problem of course is the ever growing liveaboard boating population, using the canals as housing as the cost of land based accomodation continues to spiral.

This leaves little—or in many areas—no space left for vistors to the city to moor, resulting in fewer and fewer boaters risking its waterways.  If this is allowed to continue, before long the canals of London will become one giagantic mooring location, with Ros Daniels, Director for London & the South East at Canal & River Trust, explaining:

“London’s waterways are busier today than at the height of the Industrial Revolution. They provide something for everyone. They bring nature and free access to valuable green and blue space to relax, de-stress, and exercise to many people. They’re a fascinating reminder of our industrial heritage and, of course, they allow the opportunity to boat, and moor up, in the heart of the capital.

“However, this popularity comes with challenges.  The rise in boat numbers in some parts of London is unsustainable and is putting a significant strain on the 200 years old canals, as well as the facilities that were never designed for this type and volume of use.  Finding a mooring can be a real issue, and the high number of boats in some areas can lead to unsafe mooring practices and cause a danger to others.  There is also increasingly the potential for conflict between all the different interests and ways people interact with the waterways.  We need to address this.”