Inland boaters may face sharp hike in licence fees

The government is to cut British Waterways funding by £25 million between 2008 and 2011, leading to a possible 30% hike in licence fees for inland boaters.

The cut to British Waterways’ budget has been made by Defra – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – to cover the cost of subsidies needed to meet agricultural payments for farmers and additional civil servants.

According to the RYA, canals may be forced to close and there may be redundancies, resulting in reduced levels of safety and service. Neil Northmore, RYA Government Affairs Advisor, explains: ‘The government cuts are a direct result of Defra’s new leadership. The Rt Hon David Miliband MP, recently appointed as Defra’s Secretary of State, made it clear in his appointment letter to the Prime Minister he promised to make “tough decisions and trade-offs”‘.

Boaters are urged to support the RYA’s campaign by asking the Rt Hon David Miliband MP to reinstate British Waterways’ funding. Those concerned should write to the MP explaining the effect the cuts will have on their boating activities as well as waterside communities. Copies should also be sent to local MPs.

David Miliband can be contacted at: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR or email:

Find out more at