22 September 2021

We think the Environment Agency’s proposals for Boat Registration Charges are extremely divisive and insufficient. The proposals perpetuate differences in charging between the EA’s three waterway areas. Not only this, they fail to address wider issues such as the funding shortfall.

This is IWA’s response to the Environment Agency’s recent consultation on boat registration charges. The consultation’s aim is to improve transparency and consistency in registration charges across the Environment Agency waterways. 

The consultation outlines a charging plan for the next three years based on a revised boat registration charging framework. EA intends to implement the proposals with effect from next year. 

Environment Agency Boat Registration Charges Proposals and concerns

One proposal is for an area based fee (rather than just length). This would bring the Anglian and Medway registration fee structure into line with the charging scheme on the Thames. Alongside the removal of a cap on charges for boats over a certain size, this means that larger boats will see significant increases. Smaller boats are likely to see a reduction

One of IWA’s key concerns is the significantly higher fees that boaters based in the Anglian region will pay compared to those on the Thames. This is despite the lack of facilities that are provided on those waterways. In addition to a fee per square metre (which itself will vary across the 3 regions), there will also be a “base charge” on top which creates a huge discrepancy between areas. The proposals are that the base fee for the River Thames will be £15.90 for 2022, compared to £159.00 on the Anglian waterways. 

While the proposals do offer lower charges for electric boats, they do not go nearly far enough in incentivising low carbon propulsion. The consultation also fails to address the impact of the proposals on the Gold Licence (the joint EA/CRT licence which is managed by CRT). It instead asks respondents for their suggestions. 

A missed opportunity 

The Environment Agency boat registration charges consultation has missed an opportunity to bring in a consistent charging regime across its three regions. This could have included a registration to allow use of all EA waterways, similar to a Gold Licence. 

In our response we asked for assurances that the Environment Agency is making every effort to address the funding shortfall without placing the burden on boaters. Increasing registration fees must be accompanied by increased enforcement in order to be effective.

We all know the wider benefits that waterways can bring to local communities and the economy. As such, it is vitally important that the publicly owned waterways run by EA receive additional funding from Defra. IWA will continue to lobby Government for this.