TMBA is concerned to learn that the EA are about to open a consultation which will propose increases in Thames registration charges of 5.7% p.a. for 2019 and 2020.
Other waterways users will be faced with even higher increases.
It is time to recognise that the current charging regime is unfit for purpose and needs to be completely reviewed. These are no longer registration charges but a direct tax on those who now contribute the lions share of river funding, particularly powered craft boaters.
The Defra minister with responsibility for waterways, Therese Coffey, recently decided not to accept a proposal to transfer the rivers to the Canal and River Trust and to leave responsibilty for these waterways with the Environment Agency. However, if the EA is to be able to fulfil this duty they clearly must have access to the resources they require.
Government must release the Environment Agency from the shackles of outdated legislation and Treasury rules and give them the freedom to seek new and alternative funding streams.
Everyone who uses, enjoys and profits from the river needs to contribute but government also needs to recognise that infrastructure and public safety issues will require a continuing significant level of public purse funding.
We understand the consultation will be published on July 16th and will comment further once we are aware of the detailed content.