The announcement from EA came on the same day that Canal & River Trust, by contrast, confirmed that they would be freezing private and business boat licence fees until 1st April 2020.
The announcement confirms that EA registration fee increases for 2019-20 and 2020-21 will be the same as those implemented in 2018-19, which is 5.7% on the River Thames, 7.5% on Anglian Waterways and 10% on the Medway. Recognising that some level of increase is important, IWA, along with many other respondents, had asked for the increases to be linked to inflation using CPI (Consumer Price Index, the latest available figure is 2.2%). CRT’s announcement includes a 5% reduction in the prompt payment discount, which will mean an increase for many boaters, but this is still well below EA’s increases.
At a recent meeting between IWA and EA’s national navigation team, IWA pointed out that such high levels of increase is likely to price some boaters away from EA navigations, would deter families and young people from getting involved with boating in the first place, and could lead to an increase in registration fee evasion. This is backed up in the results of the consultation, with 43% of the respondents stating they would consider leaving EA waterways, and 31% considering giving up boating altogether.
IWA National Chairman, Ivor Caplan, said “We acknowledge that EA does need to receive more funding in order to continue to maintain existing levels of navigation maintenance and service, as well as being able to address some of the backlog of work that has led to long term closures of some waterway structures, but such high increases to registration fees is not the way to do this. EA needs to increase its income without disenfranchising boat owners and pricing them off the waterways. Increased funding from Government is essential to retain vibrant waterways alive with boats, with all the associated benefits that brings to the UK economy and local communities, as well as the health benefits to the wider population.”
IWA believes that the recent announcements demonstrate yet again why a transfer of the Environment Agency navigations to Canal & River Trust would be beneficial, not only for the long term future of the waterways themselves, but also for the boaters that use them.
Find out more about the our campaign for better funding for Environment Agency Navigations.