A six-month trial in which a private parking firm has been brought in to tighten regulation of moorings on the non-tidal river has been extended.

Restrictions have been imposed at Environment Agency moorings at Weybridge Towpath, Walton Wharf and nearby Desborough Island. Boaters who overstay are liable to £100 penalties and possible court action.

The scheme was launched in Oxford last month and the agency says they have not had to issue a single warning so far at the location in East Street near Osney Lock.

The move is aimed at enforcing rules governing agency moorings which allow 24 hours' stay. Some also allow extra days on payment of a fee.

The EA's Enforcement Manager Nick McKie-Smith said: ”We have had a really positive response from our customers to the trial in Oxford. We are finding that boat owners are all paying upfront, and so far three weeks into the trial we have not issued any charges”

If boaters disregard the rules they face legal action handled by private company District Enforcement who use procedures developed for private car parks.

The agency says: "Misuse of moorings on the River Thames, particularly in busy spots, can restrict its enjoyment for all users and is often difficult to tackle because the cost of pursuing offenders is often more than the value of the mooring fees owed."

Mr McKie-Smith said: “We believe a modern and faster enforcement solution is achievable. The trial may lead to a river-wide approach that can be adopted by all landowners with moorings on the River Thames to tackle illegal mooring.

“We are confident that this approach will enable us to better regulate our moorings and enable our enforcement officers to spend more time dealing with other priorities such as boat registration and speed and wash offences.”

The Environment Agency has been working closely with the River Thames Alliance Moorings Group – of which it is a member – to develop this trial and will share the results at the end of it.

 Story dated Sept 12th 2013