Our annual national boat count has confirmed that licence evasion rates are below 5% for the sixth year in a row – with 95.4% of boats on the 2,000 miles of waterways it cares for found to be holding up-to-date licences.
The national boat count also paints a picture of the changing numbers of boats across the country. London, for example, has seen an increase of 291 boats sighted year-on-year, equivalent to more than five boats arriving every week. Nationally the number of boats sighted during the count was up around 3% on 2014.
Ian Rogers, head of customer services at Canal & River Trust, said: “Boaters make a hugely valuable contribution to the life of the waterways, not least by helping to fund their vital upkeep. It’s great to see so many people keeping their licences up to date as the more who do, the less time and money we have to spend on evasion and the more we can focus on the maintenance and repairs, dredging, vegetation and other customer service improvements – plus all the other day-to-day work we do to keep our historic canals and rivers navigable. Quite aside from that, if a boat isn’t licensed we can’t know it’s safe, which poses a risk for the boat owner and other boaters alike.
“While evasion remains low, it was disappointing to see some boats without a licence and a slight increase in evasion compared with last year. When we’ve kept licence increases at no more than inflation, it is disappointing to see a small minority taking the benefits of boating on the waterways without putting anything back to fund their upkeep. Regretfully, in 2014/15, we had to remove 83 boats from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions.”
The annual survey was completed in March, with our staff identifying boats on waterways across England & Wales. It provides a comprehensive snap-shot of licence evasion, with the information used to support the day-to-day enforcement work.