Boats in Fenland will have to be registered, insured and safety checked under new powers
- Credit: Archant
River users in Fenland will have to get their boats registered, insured and safety checked under new powers in a bid to control moorings.
The new bylaws are set to improve maintenance of more than 120 miles of waterways between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse in Peterborough to Cambridge.
It will mean that boat users on the Middle Level river system that do not have their vessels up to scratch - and exceed the four nautical mph speed limit - could be faced with a hefty fine.
The Middle Level Commissioners (MLC), who oversees flood defence and waterways management in the Fens, hope that the bylaws will be in place by September 2020.
Lorna McShane, solicitor and assistant clerk at MLC, said: "This will give us enforcement powers to regulate the boats on the river.
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"The Fens waterways are the fourth largest navigation system and elsewhere in the country people have to have insurance documents and safety certificates.
"When boats are moored up for long periods of time they could become unsafe and possibly endanger a life."
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It is also hoped that facilities for boaters will be improved, such as dispersal points, water and information boards to encourage tourism.
The commissioners have set up a navigation committee that have consulted boat owners across the district after having a private bill passed in parliament last year.
They are also working alongside Fenland District Council (FDC) and the Environment Agency.
"Most of the owners are concerned about what this will cost to them, but we won't know this until we officially get it in place," Ms McShane added.
"It will be phased in it won't be something that will happen overnight, so owners will have the time to sort things out.
"This is well overdue and there has been an increase in residential boats and people who moor in the Fens."
It will still be the responsibility of FDC for enforcing the moorings management scheme, but the new powers will make the process more "effective".
It comes as earlier this year boat owners were warned that they would be fined for overstaying on moorings in March and Whittlesey.
Access to the River Nene moorings is free of charge for 36 hours, but FDC revealed that in 2018 several boats overstayed the restrictions in March for a "considerable length of time".