The Environment Agency has successfully brought civil trespass proceedings against a number of boaters who have moored continuously on the River Thames at West Molesey for several years. This has deprived other boat-owners of their rights to be able to moor for short periods in the same location.

To ensure fair access for all, mooring in these locations is only permitted for boats travelling along the river for pleasure, for periods of no longer than 24 hours. Most boaters comply with mooring conditions; however, a small number of people abuse time limits at free-of-charge locations by overstaying – in this case, for years.

Joe Cuthbertson, a manager at the Environment Agency, said: “As the navigation authority for the River Thames, we took this case to court to protect and ensure the public rights of navigation and mooring for everyone. We brought these trespass proceedings against the boat-owners as a last resort. They have been moored continuously and without any right, unfairly denying others the chance to moor their boats on the river at this location.”

The Environment Agency had received numerous complaints, and had tried many times to persuade those occupying the moorings to move their boats voluntarily, unfortunately to no avail.

Joe Cuthbertson added: “We are pleased that the judge has found in our favour, and we hope that the defendants will move their boats before enforcement action becomes necessary. This is all we have ever asked of them.”

The court ruling does not prevent anyone from stopping to moor to the riverbank, including the defendants in this case, but it does confirm that no-one should abuse mooring rights. Rules and requirements around moorings are just one aspect of boating life that anyone should consider before deciding whether to live on a boat.