Plans for an online boat registration scheme on the non-tidal river have been shelved.

The Environment Agency says it cannot currently afford the money to implement the system which would have enabled boat owners to register and pay online rather than on paper and by mail.

In its annual report for 2015-16 the agency says a feasibility study was carried out and the case put forward for funding from the organisation’s Programme Board.

The report says: “The board decided not to provide funding for further development work at this time due to other business and funding priorities and the work is on hold until appropriate funding can be identified.

“We know how important an online service is to helping us achieve a sustainable navigation service across all the waterways and the work the team has put in has not been lost. We will continue to work with others to explore funding opportunities to make our online service a reality.”

The report reveals a total of 7,500 boats were checked to ensure they were currently registered to use the Thames. 330 enforcement notices were issued and 5 people went to court for non-payment.

The report says the total number of boats using the river was down -  from 22,009 to 21,933. The number of private powered boats dropped from 8,604 to 8,479 although visitor numbers were up from 4,593 to 5,247.

Waterways Manager Andrew Graham said: “Funds available for our winter works programme declined this year but this, combined with favourable weather, meant we were able to complete the projects and get the river open to boaters before the unusually early Easter in March 2016.

“With continued pressure on our funding, we have worked hard to find efficiencies and make savings. At the same time we have continued with our volunteer programme bringing in further recruits to augment the lock keeper service on the lock side and to assist with practical work days at the locks.”

Story dated August 4th 2016