Fines for boats which abuse moorings

BOAT-people who abuse short-stay moorings in Huntingdonshire now face the risk of prosecution and fines of up to £1,000. The district council last week authorised the Environment Agency s inspectors, who regularly patrol the river banks, enforce its bye-l

BOAT-people who abuse short-stay moorings in Huntingdonshire now face the risk of prosecution and fines of up to £1,000.

The district council last week authorised the Environment Agency's inspectors, who regularly patrol the river banks, enforce its bye-laws at council-owned moorings, where boats are allowed to stay for up to 48 hours.

But some boat-dwellers have been mooring for weeks or months at a time to avoid paying charges at marinas in the district, Councillor Deborah Reynolds told HDC's cabinet.

This blocks space for day visitors and discourages them from stopping to visit the district's attractions, the cabinet heard.

But, without its own staff to police use of the moorings daily, it can take several days before HDC can issue notices requiring the boats' removal.

It is a particular issue because of the Inland Waterways Association's annual festival, which is this year being held in St Ives over the August Bank Holiday weekend, when as many as 30,000 visitors are expected.

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EA inspectors already police the agency's own facilities and can now move people on from HDC's.

An agency spokesman said: "We would start by asking them to move on. The last resort is that we could prosecute them in the magistrates' court, but it's not something we often do because most boat owners are reasonable when asked to move.

"It is a criminal offence under the Environment Agency's byelaws to moor a boat on a 48-hour mooring without the consent of the agency for longer than 48 hours in any three consecutive days. This carries a maximum fine of £1,000.

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