Environment Agency getting tough on unlicenced boats

Published: Monday, 22 April 2024

A BOATER who failed to register his cruiser had been taken to court by the Environment Agency for non-payment.

The result for boater Michael Toner being court costs and fine totalling £1,399.

Not registered

His cruiser, The Wee Lamb, had been moored opposite Reading Marine Services during routine checks in August last year and discovered it was not registered the owner having not paid the £280 fee. (Picture courtesy of the Environment Agency.)

TheWeeLambAs the boat was unmarked, it was impossible to carry out a check on the National Licensing System, the database containing the details of all the vessels registered on the non-tidal Thames. Warning notices were affixed to the boat requiring the owner to notify the Environment Agency with personal details, a valid registration and insurance within 28 days.

Court proceeding instigated

Nothing was received, but in September, the Environment Agency was told the name and owner of the boat  and court proceeding were instigated.

Reading Magistrates’ Court was told that Toner had skipped the annual £280.04 registration fee, determined by the length and width of the boat. Including costs and compensation, he was required to pay a total of £1,399.04.

Colin Chiverton, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency in the Thames Valley, explained:

"Toner operated an unmarked vessel—you can’t do that with a car and the same rules apply with a boat. He had from August to December to make things right, though we received no correspondence at all. We’re delighted with this fine, which sends a clear warning to all unregistered boat ownersit’s just not worth the risk.

"If you have an unregistered boat on the Thames, you should know that our enforcement teams are already out patrolling the river, checking for valid registrations."

Approach has changed

The Environment Agency’s approach to non-registration has changed for this seasononce a summons has been issued, it won’t stop court proceedings, even if the boat owner pays their registration fee.

Michael Toner did not attend the hearing in Reading Magistrates’ Court with regard to breaching the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010. He was fined £600 with a victim surcharge of £240. The costs were £270 and the outstanding boat registration fee was £280.04 for 1st January to 31st December 2023.