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Middle Level Bill gains safeguards

PUBLISHED: 09:36 08 March 2018

Middle Level at Benwick

Middle Level at Benwick

Archant

The parliamentary Bill which would for the first time require boats using the Middle Level Navigations to pay registration charges, has moved a stage closer to becoming law

The parliamentary Bill which would for the first time require boats using the Middle Level Navigations (which form the route through the Fens from the Nene to the Great Ouse) to pay registration (similar to licensing) charges, has moved a stage closer to becoming law - but with important safeguards added as amendments during its Committee stage following issues raised by ‘petitioners’ (objectors).

These changes include:

• A requirement for the Middle Level Commissioners to set up a Navigation Advisory Committee with representatives of powered boating interests and those who live aboard full time

• Consultation of this committee on changes to charges, facilities, and creation of byelaws

• A stipulation that annual boat registration income cannot exceed the amount (averaged over a number of years) that is spent on providing for navigation

• A duty to have regard to rights of navigation and those who live aboard, and a requirement for an annual report on how they have fulfilled this duty.

The Commissioners have indicated that registration fees will typically be around £300-400 per year, but covered by the existing ‘gold licence’ (a combined Canal & River Trust and Environment Agency licence) arrangements. In addition to boat registration, the Bill allows the introduction of requirements for insurance and Boat Safety Scheme certificates, powers for the Commissioners to remove sunken craft, and the banning of boat toilets which empty into the waterway.

The Bill now goes to the Commons for its third reading, and then to the House of Lords.

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