Press release

Berkshire boater prosecuted for keeping unregistered vessel on Thames

Mr Dylan Gardener-Collins has been found guilty by Reading Magistrates Court for failing to register his boat UBIQUE II (also known as UBIQUE) with the Environment Agency.

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This is contrary to the requirements of Article 4(1)(a) of the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.

The defendant pleaded guilty at Reading Magistrates Court on Friday 17 November 2017, and was ordered to pay £797.65 to the Environment Agency in respect of unpaid registration fees and a victim surcharge of £20. Mr Gardener-Collins was given a conditional discharge for a period of 12 months and warned by the magistrates that if he offended again during the 12 month period, he could be re-sentenced for this offence.

A compensation order was made in the sum of £597.65 and the defendant agreed to pay £200 directly to the Environment Agency and provide the necessary documentation to enable the vessel to be registered for the remainder of 2017.

Mr Gardener-Collins’ vessel UBIQUE II (also known as UBIQUE) was spotted by an Environment Agency Waterways Officer without a valid registration on Tuesday 21February 2017 downstream from Cleeve Lock on the River Thames. The boat was served with a registration enforcement notice and the defendant was made fully aware, both verbally and in writing, that he was legally required to register his boat and failing to do so would risk prosecution.

Despite ample advice and guidance from waterways officers and acknowledgement from Mr Gardener-Collins of receipt of the Environment Agency’s boat registration direct-debit forms, the defendant had still not applied by June 2017 and therefore his boat remained unregistered for 2017.

The Inland Waterways Order 2010 requires all vessels ‘kept’ or ‘used’ on the River Thames, to be registered with the Environment Agency and display a valid annual boat registration plate (similar to a vehicle tax disc).

The Environment Agency carries out checks along all 135 miles of the navigable non-tidal River Thames to ensure that all boats kept or used on it have a valid registration plate. It takes enforcement action against all those that don’t.

It also takes enforcement action against a wide range of other offences relating to boating, often working as part of a multi-agency approach with the police and local councils.

Nick McKie-Smith, Environment Agency Waterways Operations Manager for compliance, said:

All boats must have valid registration, boat safety certificate and minimum third party insurance at all times. Boaters must renew their annual registrations each year for the Environment Agency waterway they want to keep or use their boat on. If they need to renew their registration for 2018 then they must do so before 1 January. For genuine visiting boats it is also possible to buy a visitor registration for shorter periods.

The income we raise from boat registration is vital. It helps fund every aspect of the service our specialist River Thames Waterways Operations team provides to enable safe boating on all 135 miles of the non-tidal Thames. This includes maintaining and repairing 45 sets of locks and weirs – many of which are important heritage features - as well as providing a range of facilities to help enhance boaters’ experience while out on the river. By not complying, we lose vital revenue, which hinders our ability to maintain the high standards of service we set ourselves, and which our customers expect.

Owners of boats not displaying valid registration plates could face prosecution, so it is important that they are aware of and adhere to this requirement. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Furhter information on how to register a boat.

Published 1 December 2017