NABO responds to the consultation for K&A mooring plan

NABO has responded to the “consultation” on a proposed “Towpath Mooring Plan” for The Kennet & Avon Canal west of Devizes to Bath (not including the River Avon after Bath).

Although stated as a “consultation” this questionnaire appears to be simply a list of intentions. Also, the associated letter states CRT’s intention to implement the proposals as a pilot exercise in early 2014, which implies that the results of the “consultation” will be of little relevance to its plans. NABO believes that once the results of the consultation are known, CRT should hold one or more workshops to discuss the results with all stakeholders and mutually agree a way forward. Only then should any timescale for implementation be agreed, along with the production of a formal “Mooring Plan”, scrutinised by CRT Head Office before promulgation, with definitions identified and inconsistencies removed.

NABO also has made 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. Any local arrangements which have broad local agreement should be authorised at a national level and a review date identified. 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.

·         NABO would like to be assured that all volunteer “boat checkers” are trained, identified, insured and made fully aware of their liabilities regarding any possible legal action resulting from their reports. Have all the risks associated with such use of volunteers been fully assessed?