Nearly half the structures on the non-tidal Thames are unlicensed, the Environment Agency has discovered.

A riverwide survey of so-called accommodations - which include pontoons, jetties, and moorings - is under way. Owners of riverside property have to pay for a licence but the latest estimate is that 40% - 45% do not.

The drive follows news of another anticIpated cut in government funding, expected to be around £1 million although Defra have yet to announce the grant for the financial year which started last month. And it comes amid growing concerns about the rising cost of registering boats on the river.

The latest figures were revealed at a meeting of River Users Group (6) which covers Henley to Maidenhead.

The meeting also heard marinas along the Thames are being targeted by enforcement officers to check on unlicensed boats. In a recent legal opinion obtained by the EA, a barrister has ruled that the existing waterways registration order applies to tributaries, backwaters and marinas as well as the main river.

A new poster urging boat owners to register and warning of possible £1,000 fines or a criminal record if they don't is being circulated to boat clubs and marinas along the river.

EA officers have also swooped on marinas in a recent 'Flag Day' - a co-ordinated operation on different parts of the river.

Future similar operations include a purge on boats speeding and making wash when all available EA boats and staff will be deployed at various locations up and down the Thames.

Story dated May 14th 2014 tje


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