The Environment Agency is getting tough on boaters who overstay on their short-term moorings.
Under new rules boaters have to register their arrival by phone or online. And a private firm has been contracted to implement the regulations. Failure to follow the new rules could result in a £60 fine.
During a 12 month trial which has just started a private company, Thames Visitor Moorings, has taken over responsibility for managing the moorings' use and for collecting fees at 21 of the 22 visitor sites currently operated by the agency.The company will carry out spot checks along the non-tidal river.
At present, boaters must register their arrival with the duty lock keeper, who can also take cash payments for any fees due. The EA says this can cause problems if the lock keeper is off-duty, working off-site, busy with other duties, or if the boater doesn’t have any cash to hand.
The EA said :"The new arrangements are expected to boost the income [we receive] from visitor moorings and improve the ability to monitor usage and take enforcement action if necessary."
A spokesman said: "We will implement the rules sensibly, first by having a conversation with someone who has not registered. We are really after boat owners who are seeking to take advantage."
Nick McKie-Smith, Waterways Operations Enforcement Manager, said: “I’ve got high expectations of this pilot. We’re using a first-rate provider who really understands the needs of boaters, and ourselves.
"I’m confident the new arrangements will hugely improve the customer experience and compliance at our visitor moorings, and increase our revenue. It’s good news for boaters, and for us.”
The move comes three years after the agency introduced stricter rules based on private car park regulations at its moorings which allow a first night's mooring free of charge and a further two nights at £5. After that the charge is a £100 a night.
Rex Walden, owner of Thames Visitor Moorings, himself a boater said: “I use visitor moorings most of the year. I share the challenges and frustrations of boaters but also understand those of the Environment Agency and the wider riverside community. TVM is born out of my experience. It is genuinely ‘by boaters for boaters’ and is intended to make life easier for all of those who use the river and the organisations who manage it.
“I hope our activity will help support the development of new visitor moorings being established and an increase in the number of boats using the river.”
More information on Thames Visitor Moorings is available at www.thamesvisitormoorings.co.uk
The Environment Agency short stay visitor moorings at 22 locations, listed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/river-thames-bridges-locks-and-facilities-for-boaters
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Story dated November 21st 2016