Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Marine fly-tipping is a world-wide problem. Further legislation for boat registration is needed. Truro river and Fowey harbour. The Thames. Abandonment Procedures.

Captain Paul Thomas

Harbour masters all over the world are plagued with the problems of dealing with abandoned boats. Cornwall is no exception and Captain Paul Thomas, the harbour master of Fowey, has recently spoken out about his frustration and the prohibitive costs of removing abandoned boats from Fowey harbour. "Leaving a boat to rot is simply marine fly-tipping and we're not having it." he told the Plymouth Herald

Captain Mark Killingback

Last year the harbour master of Truro and Penryn, Captain Mark Killingback, told the West Briton of his difficulties in locating the registered owners of rotting boats, prior to carrying out costly abandonment procedures in his efforts to clear Truro river.  

“It’s when they stop paying us and we can’t find them that we look into abandonment. Money is tight and boats are not cheap to run. If they are not tended and the moorings break they may find themselves in the navigable channel.” 

This yacht opposite Trennick Row has been rotting away for years

I have a vested interest in the boat above as it is near my house, and in view of the recent publicity in the local and national press about abandoned boats in Fowey harbour I went to see the Moorings Officer of Truro and Penryn,  Paul Ferris,  who told me that he is now in contact with the owner who had been ill, hospitalised and gone away.  

Tracking down the owners of abandoned boats in this country is difficult as boats frequently change hands and not all boats are re-registered.  Further legislation for registration and re-registration is needed. People buy boats with good intentions, sometimes on a whim but subsequently regret their purchases - (This is a similar scenario what is going to happen next week, when pets will be given as Christmas presents).  The costs of mooring fees, maintenance and insurance often prove prohibitive, and Cornwall has suffered the recession more than most other parts of the country. 

Boats moored along the river Truro before 1999 are not subject to fees, in which case the owners are under no financial pressure and parts of the foreshore on both sides of the river belong to private owners, one of whom is Lord Falmouth. 

Residents and businesses on both sides of the river Truro on Malpas Road and in Newham are well used to boats in various stages of disrepair which have been eyesores for years. 

Not all is doom and gloom
 Cavatina is clearly much loved and cared for
Newham businesses and flats are in the background

This picturesque old French fishing boat, Durundal, has been stranded 
on the corner of Boscawen Park for years, 
but at last a new owner has started to paint it

Boats on Sunny Corner seem to be better tended

Boat for sale on the Malpas Road side

In 2009 Andrew Graham, waterway operations manager of the Thames, gave a good account to Get Surrey of abandonment procedures regarding the removal of a cabin cruiser, Canoo C, above Sunbury Reach.

Canoo C

“There is a strict process for dealing with sunken, stranded or abandoned boats. It starts with locating the registered owner of the boat, as they are responsible for removing it in the first instance..This avoids us spending taxpayers’ money unless absolutely necessary. If the owner either does not remove the boat within an agreed reasonable period, or does not contact us in reply to our notice to remove it, we will take enforcement action. If the owner cannot pay the costs, the boat will be sold to recover costs incurred and safeguard taxpayers expense. It is disappointing to see how some people drop all responsibility for their property and cause unnecessary disruption for others who use the waterway. The fact that irresponsible owners will still have to pay the costs of the operation or lose their boat sends out a strong message that disrespecting the laws of the River Thames will not be tolerated.”