EA Registration Charges Increase...

The EA consultation ran for six weeks in July and August 2018 and the results were published in November. There were 441 responses (from a boating population in excess of 34,000 – a response rate of around 1.3%). Unsurprisingly, 86% of respondents kept their boats on EA waters, with the majority (64%) owning motor cruisers and 17% owning narrowboats.

Overall, 51% of respondents strongly disagreed/disagreed with the need to increase EA boat registration charges in order to maintain the navigation service. However, there was variation in responses from boaters on individual waterways: 88% of Upper Medway users strongly disagreed/disagreed with the increases, as did 87% of Anglian waterway users and 62% of Thames users. 81% of all respondents strongly agreed/agreed that the boat registration charge is important in the overall cost of owning or operating their boat/s.

When asked about the services that were most important, the top eight ranked were: channel dredging (66%); drinking water supply (41%); compliance and enforcement checks (39%); assisted passage (staff to operate locks) (38%); tree and vegetation clearance (35%); routine patrolling by river (33%); short stay/overnight moorings (28%) and pumpout/chemical toilet disposal (28%). Nearly half of respondents (48%) said they did not feel confident that the EA is working to secure a sustainable funding future for the waterways that it manages. The main reasons were poor services/facilities (53%), (the need to) seek other funding streams (37%), (EA should) act like a business/be efficient (35%), more/better compliance and enforcement activity (32%), and all or some charges are too high or should be reduced (28%).

So having received a clear message that the majority of boaters do not agree with the increases in registration fees and many do not regard the EA as being able to manage its waterways effectively, the EA concluded: “Although the majority of respondents did not agree with the level of increase we proposed, they were very clear they did not want to see any decrease in service levels. And some respondents felt the service is not currently meeting expectations. Operational costs are rising so we can only maintain service levels if our overall funding position improves. After careful consideration, we will implement the increases we proposed.”