EA to increase registration fees by 10% – please respond to consultation by 16th September

The Environment Agency (EA) is running a consultation on proposals for a revised and standardised boat registration charging framework and increases in its registration charges between 2022 and 2024 across the Thames, Anglian and Upper Medway waterways.

We would like members’ views on the proposals to help with formulating the NBTA response, please contact secretariat@bargee-traveller.org.uk or 0118 321 4128

In particular, the EA is proposing to increase registration charges by 6% in 2022 and 4% in 2023. This will make a total of a 10.2% increase over two years (the 0.2% reflects the difference in registration start dates between the EA’s Thames and Anglian/Medway waterways). The NBTA is opposed to any increases in registration charges apart from increases in line with inflation. An increase at this level will disadvantage all liveaboard boaters on EA waterways, but especially those who are already struggling financially due to loss of work or illness during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, some boaters will be disadvantaged by the changes proposed by the EA to the way in which registration charges are calculated. These proposed changes are a move to charging by boat area, not length, on all EA waterways, and the removal of caps on charges for boats over a certain size and discounts for engine sizes or types of boat.

The charge for each square metre will be different for each waterway “to reflect the cost of the local service”. The proposals mean that all powered boat users will pay for the whole size of their boat, and boaters who will no longer receive discounts will see the largest increases in fees. The majority of boaters will see their fees increase by £50 to £300, but some will rise by more than £600. A minority will see charges reduced. Boaters who use tenders are also likely to see the fees increase for these. The charges for Gold licences are also likely to increase. The EA also proposes significant changes for workboats. Conversely, the majority of business boats will see a reduction in their charges.

The EA has recently restructured its navigation and business departments with the aim of monetising its waterways including, of course, making boaters pay more to exercise their Public Right of Navigation on the waterways it manages. It aims to raise an extra £2.1 million over three years.

We encourage members to respond opposing the 10.2% increase in fees, the move to charging by boat area as opposed to length, the removal of price caps and discounts, and the reduction in business boat registration fees. We believe that the proposed method of calculating boat area is unfair, because for cruisers and yachts it will over-estimate the area of the boat compared to its actual area.

We also encourage members to object to the definition of houseboat for the River Thames, as it does not differentiate between a boat that is capable of navigation and one that is not capable of navigation, implying that the EA will seek increased charges or greater enforcement powers against boats used a homes on the Thames. This is the definition:

“houseboat” means for River Thames, any pleasure boat which is not a launch and which is decked or otherwise structurally covered in and which is or is capable of being used as a place of habitation (whether by day and night or the one or the other) or as a place for accommodating or receiving persons for purposes of shelter, recreation, entertainment or refreshment or of witnessing regattas or other events or as club premises or as offices or as a kitchen pantry or store place;

The EA is also seeking views on potential future changes, for example it looks like the EA aims to obtain legal powers to charge to exercise the Public Right of Navigation on the Rivers Wye and Lugg.

The deadline is Thursday 16th September 2021.

See https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/environment-and-business/nav-boat-reg-charge for the consultation proposals, online response form and downloadable response form. You can also download these here:

EA consultation ends Sept 2021 Boat registration charges proposals from 1 January 2022

DRAFT Navigation boat charging scheme 2022

Consultation Boat Reg Charges-response form