On Saturday 17th April, a flotilla of boats and boaters gathered in Broxbourne on the River Lee to protest against CRT’s new mooring restrictions which will see up to 550 mooring spaces lost along the river. The so-called ‘Water Safety Zones’ are being introduced in June by CRT without proper consultation of the stakeholders who will be worst affected – us liveaboard boaters.
The restrictions are to be implemented in Broxbourne and the lower Lee (Hackney, Clapton and Tottenham), with up to 400 moorings lost on the lower Lea and up to 150 moorings lost in Broxbourne. The restrictions will cover over 10km of the 44km river; large sections of the bank will become no mooring while other sections will become single mooring only for narrowboats. Within the zones, wide beam craft are losing 363 mooring spaces, that’s 68% fewer spaces than they are currently permitted. On a river already bustling with boats, these restrictions will render mooring in Hackney almost impossible for wider craft and difficult for all boats.
Canal and River Trust claim that these so-called ‘Water Safety Zones’ (formerly ‘Water Sports Zones’) are necessary because of the increasing number of collisions between powered craft and unpowered craft (57 incidents in five years), yet the rowers are having no restrictions imposed on them. Their high-speed vessels are propelled backwards through the water at 10m an hour above the 4m hour speed limit. Rowers were involved in a further 183 safety incidents in those five years that had nothing to do with powered boats. But rowers are not being asked to slow down. Instead, we are told that we have to move our homes or face licensing restrictions. We are forced to conclude that safety is not the real agenda here.
If safety was a genuine concern, CRT would have realised that imposing mooring restrictions will be ineffective, even damaging. Sections of the lower Lee are crime hotspots, with both boaters and non-boaters made victims of violent muggings. A moored boat can be a safe space for someone who might otherwise be a victim of crime. The increased footfall on the towpath from boaters also makes it more difficult to commit crimes there unnoticed. Limiting the number of boats which can moor here will make these areas even more dangerous, not less so. Along the 2.3km of no-mooring towpath on the lower Lee, the refuge of a moored boat will not be available for boaters, nor will it be available for any commuters or local people who use the towpaths. Far from ensuring that “these busy sections of the Lee Navigation are safe for everyone,”  CRT will in fact ensure the opposite.
CRT have failed to consult liveaboard boaters before implementing these mooring restrictions. When they organised a ‘River Lee Water Safety Zones briefing’ on 22nd April, they failed to notify any boaters that it was taking place. In the meeting ‘to hear our views’, they would neither tell us how they would review the efficacy of the ‘trial’ zones nor would they share details of the data used to create the zones. Ros Daniels, Director of London and South East CRT, directed this comment about the liveaboard boaters in the call, “clearly we are never going to be able to satisfy these people,” a comment which sums up CRT’s attitude to our community.
These zones will be implemented and enforced in one month’s time, without effective consultation and without any reasonable justification. By imposing them, CRT will be deliberately curtailing the lifestyles of the liveaboard boating community. If CRT are allowed to do this now, there is no knowing what they will be allowed to get away with next time.
Sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/stopboatcull
For more details about For more detailed information on the proposed zones see here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/where-we-work/london-and-south-east/water-safety-zones-along-lee-navigation