Middle Level navigation licences

Published: Friday, 25 March 2022

THE bill has since been passed into law and the new by-laws 2022 approved by the Secretary of State for DEFRA on 28th May 2021, writes Kelvin Alexander-Duggan.

The requirement for navigation licences has been in place since 1st October 2020,

Same rate as Nene and Great Ouse

Licences for the Middle Level waterways are set at the same rate as for EA controlled rivers Nene and Great Ouse. And as do EA and the Cam, run from the 1st April to 31st March with a half fee charged after 1st October. Gold licence holders will from the 1st April 2022 have to buy a visitor licence or a Anglian Pass to access the Middle Level.

You can use the current index number displayed on your boat, so no need to apply for a Middle Level index number when you make your application for a yearly licence.

You will need a home mooring that is approved by the Middle Level, Boat safety Certificate and third party insurance for three million pounds and salvage.

The licence itself has been designed to make it hard to fake, It arrives pre-laminated, is watermarked and has a hologram.

Anglian Pass

Since last year the new Anglian Pass has became available, this is add-on to your home navigation licence which allow you to access waters belong to the other two navigation authorities. This is also available to Gold licence holders from 1st April 2022. The fee starts from £25 depending on length up to a maximum of £100. The pass is valid until the 31st March of the following year.

Full details can be found on https://middlelevel.gov.uk/navigation/ where all things concerning navigation are located.

Middle Level licence enforcement

For the first eighteen months, there has been little enforcement to allow boaters to get their paperwork sorted. The local BSSC examiners have been busy with exams for boats which up to now did not have one. There is a hardcore of boaters who have done nothing.

MLC Enforcement officers have toured the system and have placed warning notices on each boat they have seen. Some boaters who are squatting on the bank have been threatening bodily harm if MLC try to impound their boats for non-payment of licence fees. The lady of the lock at Marmont Priory was attacked by the owner of one of these squatter boats when he tried to pass through the lock in the Covid Lockdown when all boat movements were banned. Since then she has retired from operating the lock after many years of unpaid service. Any attack on staff will face the full force of the law.

From the 1st April 2022, the gloves are off and the big stick picked up. The message is quite clear - either licence your boat or remove it from Middle Level waters. If you don't, your boat will be removed and impounded, if you still refuse to pay, the boat will be sold to recover unpaid licences and costs.

So what does the Middle Level do with the licence fee money?

If you look at the link page above for the Middle Level, you find the latest newsletter on what has been done and what will be done this year.

One of the main things, this year are new moorings to be built at Ramsay which will have a water tap and rubbish disposal facilities plus four new overnight moorings on the through route. More dredging will take place on Well Creek between Millcourt Aqueduct and Newton Bridge.

Fake continuous cruisers

Fake continuous cruisers who are also known as towpath squatters and freeloaders are not welcome on the Middle Level. The bank sides are privately owned and no mooring is permitted The main Visitor moorings have a 48 hours limit with no return in three days while the rural moorings are 24 hours.

You cannot 'Moor where you like, When you like, as long as you like'. Yet this appears to be the motto of the Bargees Travellers whose end game appears to be to make the cost of enforcement so costly and time consuming that the navigation authorities just give up.