A decision has been reached on a summer river tradition which was under threat.

As previously reported on River Thames News plans had been discussed to remove floating booms in the river, used to segregate normal boating traffic from rowers during Henley Royal Regatta, once the annual event was over in early July.

Although they are temporary, the booms have traditonally been left in place and used by boats to moor during the following Henley Festival so boaters can listen to the music from the water. But safety fears had prompted a rethink.

Now a joint statement from the Royal Regatta and the Environment Agency says they will stay in place but with stricter conditions. These include regulations that boats must not tie up more than two vessels abreast, compared with three last year, and that no vessel can be left unattended. 

A more detailed harbourmaster’s notice will be issued nearer the event and EA staff will carry out regular patrols to ensure boat owners follow these and other rules of the river. It is an offence not to abide by them.

The agency, which is responsible for the river, warned that if the conditions were not adhered to, it may look at “alternative arrangements” next year. 

Their statement said: "As Henley Festival grows in popularity, so does the number of boats mooring against the regatta booms. Not only does this increase the risk of the booms getting damaged, it also considerably increases the tension on them, especially during high winds or if there is a strong current in the river.

"Left unchecked, this could easily see booms, or the piles to which they are attached, working themselves loose and being carried downstream, along with any boats tied to them. This in turn could result in boats and other property being damaged and boat occupants being injured. 

"Henley Royal Regatta and the Environment Agency have worked together to agree some sensible precautions to reduce the risk of such an incident. These take the form of some conditions which we hope all users will find reasonable.” 

Andrew Graham, EA Waterways Manager for the Thames said: “Henley is a fabulous place to be at any time of year but it really comes into its own during the Regatta, the festival and the other river-based events that take place around the same time, some of which also make use of the booms. 

" I know from personal experience how wonderful it is to enjoy these events from a vantage point on the river itself, so I’m really not surprised that more and more people are coming to town by boat. But things got a little bit out of hand last year and we really don’t want anybody’s trip to be ruined due to a preventable accident.

"That’s what these mooring conditions are all about. If people respect them and they work well this year, then the situation will have been improved. If not, Henley Royal Regatta and the Environment Agency might have to look at alternative arrangements.”

The booms will also stay in place for the Thames Traditional Boat Festival being held at Fawley Meadows, Henley on July 15th - 17th.

Story dated April 7th 2016