05/12/2017 – Unauthorised moorings in the Borough

We are aware of an increase in boats moored without permission along the River Thames. Within the Public Right of Navigation there is deemed a right for boat owners to stop on land, subject to the necessary landowners consent, for a reasonable period. The Borough follows the Environment Agency’s policy that 24 hours is considered a reasonable time within normal navigation. Boats are entitled to stay for longer however, provided they have the landowner’s consent to do so.
The River has a complex range of land owners, and the law only allows the owners of the land that the boats are moored on to take action against an unauthorised mooring. This would include any potential byelaw which would only be effective on Elmbridge owned land. Land owners could include the Environment Agency, Network Rail or in a minority of cases Elmbridge Borough Council. At this point the landowner could consider applying to the Courts for a possession order, or other powers under their jurisdiction, to compel the boat owners to move their vessels. The sanctions for repeated tresspass offences are increasingly stringent, so this is the most effective method for dealing with this issue, and is the Environment Agency’s recommended approach.
Anyone who suspects a boat is moored to land without consent, should first contact the owner of that land to ensure that they are aware and can take appropriate action to resolve the matter, should they choose to do so.
Elmbridge Borough Council has no powers to move/evict boats which are not moored on Elmbridge owned land but continues to work with other agencies to try and resolve this issue. We are working closely with the EA who are taking action against a number of unauthorized moored boats on their land.
The Environment Agency (EA) will also seek to take action against any incidents of pollution in the river that are reported to them. If you witness any dumping of waste into the river you can report to the EA on their hotline 0800 807060 and the EA will investigate.
The Environment Agency undertakes regular boat registration checks including unauthorised moored boats. All boats are required to have valid registration including boat safety certification and insurance. If boats are found not to comply, then the Environment Agency will seek to enforce and will prosecute. The EA will seek to take action against any owner of any vessel which has sunk and has failed to be removed.
To report any other non urgent matter relating to the river please contact enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk or telephone 03708 506 506 during office hours.

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