The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) objects to small number of harbour authorities being designated until recreational boating interests are represented on Port User Groups

This winter has seen the RYA actively take part in the Government’s Consultation on the applications received from statutory harbour authorities for 26 harbours in England and five non-fishery harbours in Wales requesting to be designated with the power to give harbour directions, pursuant to the Harbours Act 1964 (as amended by the Marine Navigation Act 2013).

Port User Groups

Gus Lewis, RYA head of legal and government affairs, said: ‘The Code of Conduct stipulates that any Harbour Authority using the powers under the Act should set up a Port User Group for consultation and dispute resolution purposes.

‘Provided those groups include representation of the various recreational boating interests and users’ organisations in the harbour, including the RYA itself and any RYA-affiliated yacht and sailing clubs located in the relevant ports, we are content with the proposed arrangements.

‘It is however disappointing that some of the statutory harbour authorities applying for designation appear not to have established the appropriate arrangements for stakeholder consultation, as required by the Code of Conduct.

‘We have therefore objected to a small number of harbour authorities being designated until such time as a meaningful stakeholder or user group has been established that includes representation of recreational boating interests.’

Read our previous coverage of Harbour Directions here:

Consultation response

The RYA welcomed the fact that the statutory harbour authorities for all 31 harbours have provided an Assurance Statement that they will abide by the Code of Conduct on Harbour Directions, which was pioneered by the RYA and agreed by industry and other user representative organisations.

Whilst the Code is not legally binding, through the RYA’s efforts it obtained Government support in both Houses of Parliament during the passage of the 2013 Act and designated harbour authorities are expected to comply with it as a way of ensuring that the powers conferred by the Act are exercised appropriately only after wide and effective consultation.

The guidance also sets out an explanation of the way in which harbour directions should be formulated and handled.

What happens now?

The month-long consultation closed in January and it is anticipated that the successful harbour authorities will be designated later in the year.