Issue date: 5th August 2013
The Environment Agency has announced trials of a new moorings enforcement scheme, using a firm of private contractors, at three of its moorings. In general, unless otherwise indicated, boat owners can stop free of charge for up to 24 hours on public open land owned by the Environment Agency. Some moorings have an associated charge, either for mooring at any time, or after an initial free period. Unfortunately, some customers do not pay the charges applicable and stay moored up longer than they are entitled to.
The Agency says that misuse of moorings is widespread and causes constant problems for boaters on the Thames. However, the Agency finds that dealing with misuse is an expensive issue as the cost of pursuing offenders is often more than the value of the outstanding mooring fees. They are therefore looking for a faster enforcement solution, which could be adopted by the owners of moorings along the river. Such a solution would aim to increase access to free 24-hour moorings on the Thames and to allow Agency enforcement officers to spend more time dealing with other important issues such as boat registration.
The Agency has announced a six-month mooring enforcement trial at three of its mooring sites, and is working with car park management company District Enforcement to apply the same civil enforcement rules used to monitor private car parks.
During the trial, any boat owner who breaches the conditions of use of the selected free 24-hour moorings will be issued with a penalty charge of £100 (£60 if paid early). If an offence is committed, Environment Agency officers will submit a report with accompanying evidence to District Enforcement who will then send a Mooring Charge Notice to the registered boat owner by post. District Enforcement will pursue payment using County Court proceedings if necessary. The mooring sites will comply in all aspects of the industry's approved codes of conducts for operators, as part of this an appeals process will be in place.
The Agency has been working with River User Groups to develop this trial with a view to finding an approach to illegal mooring that can be used by landowners along the river as part of a coordinated move to tackle the issue.
The trial begins on Thursday 1st August at the Environment Agency Moorings in East Street, Oxford. Further trials at sites in Weybridge and Walton upon Thames begin on 15th August 2013. The trials will finish in February 2014 after which the Environment Agency will share the results with the public.