IT WAS Peter Ponting's article ('Licence it or lose it' is not working—NbW 03/08/12) that pointed out the alarming number of unlicenced boats on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, that has prompted a response from Paul Griffin from Canal & River Trust's enforcement team.
In 2007 licence evasion was 10.4%. At the last full national boat count in March it was 3.4%. To put in another way, more than 96% of boaters are contributing towards the considerable cost of looking after the waterways.
Here's how the evasion rate has fallen since 2007:
National licence evasion rates
- 2007 = 10.4%
- 2008 = 6.8%
- 2009 = 5.3%
- 2010 = 4.9%
- 2011 = 4.9%
- 2012 = 3.4%
Our teams are out on the towpath collecting boat sighting information and taking action against unlicenced boats. The last resort is where a boater gets to the end of the evasion process and we seize his/her boat.
Seized 64 boats
Last year we physically seized 64 boats. Once seized, the owner has to pay to get their boat back (including the cost of seizing it and any outstanding fees). On occasion the boat is sold to recover costs.
Not every single boat owner displays their licence, but that's another story. Needless to say, if you have a licence, please display it.
Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Specifically regarding the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, its evasion figures are recorded together with the other waterways in the ‘North'. Here the evasion rate is 4.2% (5.2% in 2011). The Lancashire end of the Leeds & Liverpool (from Greenberfield through to Rosegrove Burnley) has approximately 250 craft on this stretch—of which 14 are currently having enforcement action taken against them. The local team are confident that they are aware of the craft Peter refers to.
If you wish to check the licensing status of any craft, we have introduced a facility to check this on our website at
Will take action
If the boat is unlicenced you can log the sighting and our enforcement team will take action. Obviously due to restrictions of the Data Protection Act, we cannot divulge what action is being taken against the owners of specific craft.
I hope the above demonstrates that `licence it or lose it' is working, and that our law abiding boaters are reassured. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who does pay on time. Please be assured that our dedicated enforcement team will do their best to ensure that a small minority do not get away with it.