EA's Proposed Registration Fee Increases13 September 2018
We have responded to the Environment Agency's consultation on proposed navigation charge increases, which would see some boaters paying over 30% more for their licence over 3 years, by asking EA to reconsider its proposals.
EA intends to continue the high percentage increases that it implemented for 2018-19 for the next two years. It's fair to say that regular increases in boat registration charges are necessary, but we believe that these should be in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) only. To put this into perspective the July 2018 CPI was 2.3%. The proposed increases are likely to start pricing some boaters away from EA navigations, with a potential resulting loss of income due to less boats being registered. On the Thames, where it is relatively easy for boats to relocate to other adjacent non-EA waterways, and for larger craft to move to the continent or UK coast or estuaries, registrations have dropped from 20,490 at the end of 2011 to 17,149 at the end of 2016, and on the Medway, the number of registrations has dropped from 1,827 to 1,678 over the same period.
The increased cost of registering a boat is likely to deter people, especially families and young people, from getting involved with boating in the first place, and potentially lead to an increase in registration fee evasion.
The proposed increases, which are the same percentages which were applied for the current year, are 5.7% on the River Thames, 7.5% on Anglian Waterways and 10% on the Medway. The level of increase across all EA waterways should be CPI, since in all likelihood anything above this will be expropriated by government through further reducing EA's Grant in Aid funding.
The differing percentage increases across the 3 different waterway areas is divisive and the level of increase across all EA waterways should be the same.
We have already offered support with EA's Navigating Forward Strategy and look forward to working constructively by offering our support and help with projects that will allow EA's navigation team to increase its income without disenfranchising boat owners and pricing them off the waterways.
EA needs more funding in order to continue to maintain existing levels of navigation maintenance and service, but the high increases proposed to registration fees is not the way to retain vibrant waterways alive with boats, with all their associated benefits to the economy, communities, and the wider population, and that more financial support from government through Defra is required.
See our response to the EA Registration Fee Consultation.