Press release

Reading boaters caught without a valid boat licence

Two boaters have recently been fined over £1,800 for breaking the laws of the river by Reading Magistrates Court.


Rowan Newey who lives on his boat, ‘Patience’, was caught without a valid licence for both his houseboat and another vessel called ‘Meet on the Ledge’, which he owns and keeps moored downstream of Horseshoe Bridge, Reading. Mr. Newey pleaded guilty and had to pay compensation costs of £519.40 and £830.56 for each vessel for failing to display a valid registration plate.

Jeff Hunt of Vachel Road, Reading, Berkshire, failed to licence his boat ‘Odbarnicle’ and was discovered by Environment Agency enforcement officers at Thames Water Moorings, upstream of Caversham Bridge, Reading. The case against Mr. Hunt was proved in absence at Reading Magistrates Court and fined £220, ordered to pay compensation to the Environment Agency in respect of the unpaid registration fee of £166.95 and prosecution costs of £85.

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 which 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.

A series of multi-agency action days in Surrey and other areas along the lower Thames has seen a number of illegally moored boats moving on, illegal mooring poles being removed, and a significant reduction in the amount of littering and other anti-social behaviour taking place.

Nick McKie-Smith, Environment Agency Waterways Enforcement Manager said:

The income we raise from boat registration is imperative for the upkeep of the non-tidal River Thames. It is used to improve and maintain the navigation and lock structures as well as providing facilities such as sewage disposal, water points and electricity charging points. By not complying, we lose vital revenue, which damages the future of these great waterways.

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.

Published 8 July 2016