NABO has comments on the Partnership towpath mooring plan for the Kennet and Avon Canal west of Devizes.
The Kennet & Avon Waterway Partnership, based on recommendations from its Local Mooring sub-group, has submitted proposals to the boating team of the Canal & River Trust for further consideration by the CRT Navigation Advisory Group. These proposals support the introduction of a pilot voluntary local agreement between CRT and licence holders in the area between Bath and Devizes. As stated in their report, these “proposals do not seek to interpret the definition of ‘continuous cruising’ but do seek to establish fair and equitable sharing of the canal within the area and establish a process to enable all users to opt in to an agreement which will support this guiding principle. Licence holders who do not opt in to the voluntary agreement would knowingly be bound by standard licensing obligations within this area.”
The NABO Council has been following the development of these proposals with much interest and welcomed the work when the original Moorings Strategy Sub Group was established as it involving most key stakeholders and legitimate representative groups. This broad representation, NABO was disappointed to note, has not been continued by the follow-up group which was established under the Partnership.
NABO acknowledges that the section targeted by this work does cover stretches of the K&A where there are simply far too many boats and far too few residential moorings. NABO, though, has always been concerned about the lack of factual information relating to the problems raised, and was, for example, concerned, that the complaints were seemingly driven by a few hire boat companies, rather than by regular boat owners. NABO is also aware that there are a number of boaters with continuous cruiser licences who have been reportedly abusing the existing rules but is also aware that most boaters do work within these rules. NABO is concerned, though, that existing rules are not being fully and fairly enforced.
NABO is also unhappy about the proposal that “all boats (except hire/hotel boats under hire) are limited to an accrued maximum stay at each Visitor Mooring section of 4 days per calendar month” For many boaters with a home mooring and who (or whose family) make regular use of their boat, this is simply unacceptable. Further, NABO also believes that proposals to implement such limits and, especially, charging boaters for overstaying, are also open to legal challenge in terms of the powers provided to CRT(BW) in the 1962/1995 Act.
NABO broadly supports the principles outlined in the local guidance specifically that boats will move every 14 days within the places defined or beyond. However NABO is not supportive at this time of a specific minimum range of movement that should be traveled during a licence year. This should be determined by the Courts. NABO notes that there is some guidance in the CRT policy for issuance of licence without a home mooring for remote waterways such as Mon and Brec, Lee and Lancaster, and is content with this as a guideline at the present time.
NABO does not accept the principle of certain "boaters signing up to things." The only thing they sign up to are their Licencing terms.
NABO, though, welcomes the rejection of the proposals by CRT to introduce Community Moorings (previously called “Roving Mooring Permits”.) NABO has consistently opposed the introduction of such moorings, and indeed, is advised that their introduction will require a change to the 1995 British Waterways Act.
Finally, NABO is surprised that the report does not call for an urgent investigation by CRT into the provision of additional moorings, both residential and visitor, on many sections of the K&A. It is evident to any user of the K&A that this is the real problem, along with the lack of the implementation of existing mooring regulations over many years.
NABO is thus unhappy about many of the recommendations made in this present submission and is not convinced that the proposals can be applied elsewhere.
We are not aware of the Partnership publishing the report, but it is available to read here from the Kanda web site.