The Environment Agency has announced it will increase the cost of boat registration in 2019 to meet the costs of maintenance and customer service

The increased charges of boat registrations  for 2019-2021 will help the Environment Agency meet the cost of running the services and the upkeep of the waterways.

The cost for pleasure boaters will go up by between £6 and £100 over two years depending on the size and type of boat, but specific costs vary by location.

This follows a consultation that the Environment Agency ran between July and August of this year. The EA received 441 responses and found that: “Respondents were clear that they did not want a decrease in the services currently provided. Some felt current services do not meet expectations. Some said they wanted the current service to be maintained whilst others indicated an improvement in service should result from an increase in charges. A clear majority of respondents believe that the registration charge is a significant proportion of the total cost of boat ownership.”

In the Consultation Response document the Environment Agency states: “We understand that increasing our charges will not be welcomed by many customers, as the costs of boat ownership can be high. However, each of our waterways currently receives significantly less income from boat registration charges than we spend on the services those charges should pay for. We need to reduce our dependency on grant-in-aid support from government and work towards creating a sustainable service where customers pay the right charge for the services on offer to them. We have looked carefully at the income and costs of running the navigation service for each of the waterways. We are increasing our charges by the minimum necessary to sustain the levels of service customers tell us they expect. If we reduce the charges increase, unfortunately the standard of service we provide would reduce further – we don’t think customers would accept this. It could also lead to boats leaving Environment Agency waterways, especially if some parts of our waterways become unusable. 7 of 12 Looking further ahead, we will work with our user representative groups to understand the impact of proposals from 2021 on businesses, homes and participation.”

The RYA first opposed the increase in charge. In an article they said: “The RYA made it clear that it considered the proposal to increase the charges by the amounts specified in the consultation document was unreasonable and unfair.

“However in the light of a funding shortfall, the RYA also recognised that the EA was working within a fixed timescale to implement the 2019 registration fees and that timescale would not allow sufficient time to properly research and determine a justifiable and fair annual increase. The RYA has therefore accepted the proposed increases as a short term expedient whilst a fundamental review is conducted, provided there is proper consultation and meaningful engagement with all stakeholders throughout the review.”

The second largest navigation authority in the UK after the Canal and River Trust, the Environment Agency is responsible for more than 1,000 km of navigable waterways, including the non-tidal River Thames, River Great Ouse, River Nene and Upper Medway Navigation. The RYA estimates that the new charges will bring in an additional £930,000 by 2021.


A full list of the new charges is available here.