Our annual national boat count shows that licence evasion on our waterways has reduced by 0.2% in the past year to 4.4%, with 95.6% of boats holding up-to-date licences. This is the seventh year the rate has stayed below 5%.
The national boat count also paints a picture of the changing numbers of boats across the country. London has seen an increase of just over 400 boats, with numbers in the south west and south east also rising, while other areas reduced by almost the same amount.
Mike Grimes, head of boating at Canal & River Trust, said: “I’m pleased that licence evasion continues to remain below 5%. The contribution boaters make to our canals and rivers helps fund their vital upkeep and it’s important for everyone to play their part. I’d like to thank our enforcement team for their sterling work in helping protect the income that goes towards looking after the waterways for the benefit of all boaters. There’s also an important safety aspect. If a boat isn’t licensed we can’t know that it’s safe, which poses a risk for both the boat owner and other boaters.
“While evasion has fallen slightly, it is disappointing to see a small minority taking the benefits of boating on the waterways without putting anything back to fund their upkeep In 2015/16, we had to remove 90 boats from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions.
“The national boat count also suggests that the popularity of boating in places like London is continuing to grow. We can’t, and wouldn’t want, to stop boats visiting but we would encourage all boaters in congested areas to share the space fairly, respect mooring and cruising guidelines and be considerate of their neighbours.”
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 our day-to-day enforcement work.