Owner up the creek without a paddle as court rules he must pay full fee for keeping his engineless boat on the river

Environment Agency prosecuted boat owner

Environment Agency prosecuted boat owner - Credit: Archant

A narrow boat owner who argued his vessel should be classed as non-powered as it had no engine has been found guilty of keeping his boat on a waterway without it being registered and fined £800.

David John Rennie yesterday (Thurs 5 Mar) pleaded not guilty at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court to keeping or using a vessel on the River Nene at Stibbington Boat Yard, Cambridgeshire when it was not registered with the Environment Agency.

Ms Frances Aldson, prosecuting for the Agency, told the court that the annual registration fee for the 14.5m narrow boat would have been £770.95.

Ms Aldson told magistrates that a list of registration charges for Anglian waterways is produced annually setting out the different charges for registration of different vessels and for different waterways. It states that a narrowboat with no engine may qualify for a houseboat discount of 50%, which Rennie could have applied for.

After a river inspector issued an offence ticket for the boat for having no registration and contacted Rennie in July 2014. Rennie sent in an application for an ‘unpowered’ vessel which has an annual registration charge of £35, the same as canoes, kayaks and rowing boats.


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An application for a boat registration should be accompanied by a certificate of insurance and a valid Boat Safety Scheme Certificate. These are not needed for applications to register canoes and kyaks.

Rennie argued that as a matter of plain English, his engine-less vessel should have come under the ‘unpowered vessels’ category because it is technically unpowered. Magistrates expressly disagreed with this.

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The magistrates said the Environment Agency was entitled to have its own definitions and ordered Rennie to pay £1,000 towards its costs.

After the hearing, Agency Waterways Manager Irven Forbes said: “Vessel registration charges are crucial for maintaining the 568km of Anglian Waterway navigable rivers, lock sites and other navigation facilities. The Environment Agency routinely inspects locks, moorings and other structures to make sure they are in good condition.”

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