Our annual national boat count shows that licence evasion on our waterways is at its lowest-ever level, with 96.9% of boats holding up-to-date licences (2017: 96.3%).
Jon Horsfall, our interim head of boating said: "This is a fantastic achievement for our boat licensing customer support team. They are out every day helping boaters with their licence requirements and trying to find ways to work things out when a boater might run into problems. When boaters talk to us about difficulties they may be having, we are nearly always able to come up with a solution to keep them licensed.
"It’s important that boats are licensed correctly. Not only does this mean they’re insured and hold a boat safety certificate, but it means they’re playing their part in contributing to the huge task of keeping our canals and rivers open. The income from boat licensing is crucial – in 2017/18 leisure licences contributed £20.2m, around 10% of total income – and it’s important that it’s shared fairly by everyone who keeps a boat on our waterways.
"Unfortunately, a small minority continue to enjoy the benefits of boating on the waterways without putting anything back to fund their upkeep. In 2017/18 we had to remove 108 boats from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions."
The national boat count also paints a picture of the changing numbers of boats across the country. Our waterways in London have seen growth slowing: up 2.4%, compared to growth of over 9% in 2016/17. The North also saw an increase of 2.3%, while other areas remained static.
The survey, completed in March, records boats on waterways across England & Wales and provides a comprehensive snap-shot of licence evasion. The information is used to support the day-to-day work carried out by us.