The Canal & River Trust's annual national boat count shows that licence evasion on its waterways is at its lowest-ever level, with 96.9% of boats holding up-to-date licences (2017: 96.3%).

Jon Horsfall, interim head of boating at The Canal & River Trust, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for our boat licensing customer support team. They are out every day helping boaters with their licence requirements and trying to find ways to work things out when a boater might run into problems.

"When boaters talk to us about difficulties they may be having, we are nearly always able to come up with a solution to keep them licensed.

Why it matters

"It's important that boats are licensed correctly. Not only does this mean they're insured and hold a boat safety certificate, but it means they're playing their part in contributing to the huge task of keeping our canals and rivers open.

"The income from boat licensing is crucial - in 2017/18 leisure licences contributed £20.2m, around 10% of total income - and it's important that it's shared fairly by everyone who keeps a boat on our waterways.

"Unfortunately, a small minority continue to enjoy the benefits of boating on the waterways without putting anything back to fund their upkeep. In 2017/18 we had to remove 108 boats from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions."

Changing boating landscape  

The National Boat Count also paints a picture of the changing numbers of boats across the country. The Trust's waterways in London have seen growth slowing: up 2.4%, compared to growth of over 9% in 2016/17. The North also saw an increase of 2.3%, while other areas remained static.

The survey, completed in March, records boats on waterways across England & Wales and provides a comprehensive snap-shot of licence evasion. The information is used to support the day-to-day work carried out by the Canal & River Trust.

Image courtesy of Ian Bradbury HCS.