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Two Thames boaters fined for avoiding registration fees

"The income we raise from boat registration ... is used to improve and maintain the navigation and lock structures as well as providing facilities ...

The owners of two boats found navigating the River Thames without valid registrations have been convicted by Staines Magistrates Court of illegally using their vessels.

Charles Elliot Winterton of 33 Eton Square, Eton, Berkshire was ordered in his absence to pay a total of £733.24 for failing to display a valid registration plate. He was fined £400, ordered to pay compensation to the Environment Agency in respect of the unpaid registration fee of £233.24, prosecution costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £15.

His vessel, Lorelei II, was seen on September 24, 2012 at Tangiers Mill Stream, Eton on the River Thames without a valid registration displayed. The Lorelei II was booked for being unregistered and Mr Winterton was made aware he needed to comply.

The court heard that Mr Winterton contacted the Environment Agency in November 2012 to explain he had been out of the country during the summer, that a friend had used the boat briefly and that he was now taking it out of the country. However, when asked to provide further evidence he failed to do so.

Roger Vincent Meade of 8 Culverlands Crescent, Ash, Surrey pleaded guilty by post and was ordered to pay a total of £1,079.68 for failing to display a valid registration plate on his vessel Muscavado. He was fined £200, ordered to pay compensation to the Environment Agency in respect of the unpaid registration fee of £799.68, prosecution costs of £60 and a victim surcharge of £20.

Muscavado was observed not displaying a valid registration during a routine inspection at Tims Boat Yard, Staines on the River Thames on November 1, 2012. The vessel was booked for being unregistered and Mr Meade was made aware he needed to comply, however he failed to do so.

The legislation, the Inland Waterways Order 2010 (IWO), was introduced in April 2011 and requires all vessels 'kept' on the River Thames, not just 'used', to be registered with the Environment Agency and display a valid annual boat registration plate (similar to a vehicle tax disc).

James Overy, Environment Agency Waterways Enforcement officer said,
"The income we raise from boat registration is imperative for the upkeep of the non-tidal River Thames. It is used to improve and maintain the navigation and lock structures as well as providing facilities such as sewage disposal, water points and electricity charging points. By not complying, we lose vital revenue which damages the future of these great waterways.

"Owners of boats not displaying valid registration plates could face prosecution, so it is important that they are aware of and adhere to this requirement. Ignorance is not an excuse."