The Environment Agency has launched a clampdown on unlicenced river structures including piers, pontoons, and slipways.

It follows the revelation that thousands of pounds were going uncollected in licence fees. The news coincided with an announcement of above-inflation increases in boat licences for this year.

Now a dedicated team is involved in a three-month progamme of identifying so-called accommodations that should be paying annual fees. And the agency warns legal action may be taken against owners who do not comply with regulations.

It plans to survey the whole river by the end of the year.

An EA document circulated to Thames organisations says: "The income we receive from accommodation licence fees makes a vital contribution to the funding of our navigation service and management of the non-tidal Thames, including keeping our locks staffed and in safe working order.

"We know in most cases, the reason a structure is not licensed is because the owner is not aware that it needs to be. Often, this lack of awareness starts when a property with an associated structure changes hands. Sometimes new structures are installed without the owners contacting us - not because they are trying to flout the rules, but because they are not aware the rules exist.

"We have started a review of all aspects of our approach to accommodations licensing, including our communications."

The EA says it is contacting owners of any structure it finds without a licence, to let them know what they need to do to comply with the law - to licence it or to remove it.

The EA warns: " We will also contact the owner of any licensed structure we find to be in poor condition, and advise them to repair or remove it. We will carry out follow-up checks to ensure the necessary actions have been taken. If not, we will consider taking enforcement action."

Link to earlier story

More details on Environment Agency website

Story dated Feb 4th 2014

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