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Government must release the Environment Agency from the shackles of outdated legislation and Treasury rules and give them the freedom to seek new and alternative funding streams.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.
The EA have now published the Customer Charter for the non tidal Thames for 2018 which you can access HERE
This includes an updated list of priority locks showing those locks which should not be subject to double manning (EA speak meaning 1 lock keeper looking after 2 locks) during the season from 1st April to 30 September. We suggest that boaters print this document and keep it by the helm on their boat.
The TMBA are particularly pleased to have been instrumental in getting Temple Lock added to this list.
We have been notified by the BSS Office that prices for BSS Examinations will rise from 1 April 2018.
The full Press Release can be read HERE
Government have decided to reject the Canal and River Trust’s recent proposal to take over management of EA waterways so the non tidal Thames will continue to be managed by the Environment Agency for the foreseeable future.
Management of the river has suffered some paralysis whilst the proposed transfer was under consideration but now that this elephant in the room has been kicked into touch we sincerely hope that everyone who cares for, uses and manages the Thames can start singing from the same song sheet and pursue a “can do” approach to the future of this great river. In particular, there needs to be major effort to build new income streams to replace reductions in public purse funding. Recent enforcement activity by the EA has confirmed that licence evasion is far greater than previously assumed – losses due to evasion in 2017 could well exceed the additional income which will derive from the 5.7% increase in registration charges being applied for 2018. The TMBA and other boating organisations are pressing for urgent action to ensure that all revenue income entitlement is collected from those that are required to contribute.
Since its inception in 2011 the TMBA has expressed serious concern for the funding of the non tidal Thames – indeed, it was mainly this concern that led to the formation of the TMBA. The situation described in this paper from 2015 very much reflects the current position.
If you boat on the non tidal Thames and are not already a member please join us in representing the interests of powered craft boaters and other river users.