NABO responds to K&A moorings report

NABO responds to the Canal and River Trust consultation report on a proposed “Towpath Mooring Plan” for The Kennet & Avon Canal

Brief History

In 2012, at the request of the Canal and River Trust (CRT), the K&A Waterways Partnership nominated a mooring sub-group to come up with workable ways of addressing the CRT aims for moorings on the Kennet & Avon canal (K&A). The sub-group built on the extensive work of a previous, but abandoned, group of users representatives which had been set up by BW to address this issue. The new Partnership sub-group submitted their report in November 2012. After reviewing this, CRT asked the group to further consider specific objectives.

In May 2013 the Partnership presented their report to the Navigation Advisory Group (NAG) and CRT and it was decided that the group’s proposals should be put out to public consultation. Invitations to take part in the consultation were sent to all boats sighted on the K&A between August 2012 and July 2013, all boats with a home mooring on the K&A, and key stakeholders and organisations with an interest in the K&A.

The consultation was carried out between 29 August and 29 November 2013. 438 completed response questionnaires were received as well as 19 separate submissions to the consultation, including 8 from local and national organisations with links to the canal including the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO).

The consultation report can be found at:

NABO’s submission to the consultation contained the following comments:

•    It is recognised by all users that the K&A suffers from a serious shortage of residential and visitor moorings. In previous years much work was put into identifying new locations for residential moorings. This current proposal suggests this work is yet again delayed. For an area under severe mooring pressure, this seems to be a fundamental question that needs to be addressed in advance of any proposed changes.

•    The proposal is to produce a “local mooring plan” to which licence holders on the K&A will be required to sign up to. Whilst the trialling of proposals may be of benefit, NABO believes that (given the interconnectivity of our waterways) all such agreements should be negotiated nationally through the national organisations. Further NABO believes a “local mooring plan” should be a workable model that needs to be ‘fit for purpose’ and able to be introduced in other waterways.

•    Further to the above, we are concerned that the repeated intimation that failure to adhere to the proposed “voluntary” guidelines will result in enforcement action, will be poorly received by many boaters. Indeed, if this is enshrined as a CRT document, it may cause CRT difficulties if taken to court.  

•    NABO supports the underlying principle, which it believes is fully compliant with the s17 of the 1995 British Waterway Act, that boats can only remain on any (non-residential) mooring for a maximum of 14 days.

•    NABO believes 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” is potentially unworkable, unenforceable and illegal, and is simply not a practical proposal for those who use their boat on a regular basis. NABO would propose that any 48-hour limits be strictly limited to the months of July and August only.

•    NABO believes that CRT should work with local and national associations to identify additional visitor moorings – these do not have to be expensive areas with rings but with cut back vegetation on towpaths and suitably dredged. NABO notes that the hire fleets on the K & A are alone capable of overwhelming the currently available visitor moorings at hot spots such as Bath. NABO has also noted with alarm that several existing visitor moorings have been re-allocated for commercial use: This cannot be right.

•    NABO agrees with the rejection by the working group of the introduction of Community Moorings (also called “Roving Mooring Permits”). NABO acknowledges that there is a serious overcrowding problem on sections of the K&A with a small number of boats which do not move in accordance with their continuous cruising licence requirements. However, NABO does not agree that the answer to this lies in a compromise solution such as Community Moorings/RMPs) but rather by clearer definition of the continuous cruising requirements and by improved monitoring and consistent enforcement.

•    NABO has an expectation that CRT will implement the specific powers of s17 of the 1995 Act. This is as much to ensure access to navigation facilities for all classes of boaters as to protect the legal rights of those without a home mooring. NABO believes that it is not correct for CRT to take reward from boaters who as a consequence are permitted to circumvent the requirements of the 1995 Act and the guidance for those without a home mooring provided by CRT.

Summary of responses

A brief summary of boaters views where there is a clear majority view (over 60% in each category) both of Continuous Cruisers and Boaters with Home Mooring is summarised below:

Boaters agree to move to a new place every 14 days, unless it is reasonable in the circumstances to stay longer.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                              89%                                        94%                          93%
 Boaters agree to vary the places they select to moor, and each time they move they agree not to move back to the place they have just come from (unless they are reversing the direction of travel or momentarily accessing essential services).
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                83%                                         91%                       87%
Boaters agree not to ‘Bridge Hop’ (the term used to describe when a boat moves from one place to another adjacent to it and then back to the same place).
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                 85%                                       91%                         87%

Boaters would agree that over the period spanning a boat’s annual licence to achieve a range of movement that exceeds 20 km.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                  65%                                        70%                       69%

Undertake regular, consistent and fair enforcement of the14 day mooring rule, applied firmly and fairly to all boats, whether they are lived-on or empty.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                   85%                                      96%                        91%

Take enforcement action against boats that have been shown to have persistently disregarded Local Guidelines.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                  62%                                      93%                         80%

Individual boaters would be able to access their own navigation records held by the Canal & River Trust
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                  84%                                      81%                       81%

To effectively evaluate the 12 month pilot, the Canal & River Trust will work with the K&A Waterways Partnership to agree key measures that will be reported regularly to the partnership.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                 65%                                      88%                         78%

Community Moorings should be rejected as an option on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                76%                                        81%                        78%

The Canal & River Trust should continue to assess the merits of exceptional situations of need, on a case by case basis.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                                85%                                        81%                        83%

To assist boat checking all hire/hotel boats under hire will be requested to display an “under-hire” notice or symbol.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                               63%                                        81%                        73%

It would be a good idea for the location and lengths of all visitor mooring sites on the canal to be reviewed and updated to meet changing demand.
Strongly Agree/Agree    Continuous Cruisers         Boaters with Home Mooring    Combined
                                               61%                                        89%                        77%

22nd January 2014