Enivironment Agency Update for Boat Owners and River Use

Following the government announcement on 10 May about plans to relax some of the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), we wanted to let you know how this affects our advice for Environment Agency navigations. Firstly, we are continuing to follow government advice during this coronavirus pandemic and our main priority remains protecting the health of our staff, customers and the general public.

The government have clearly stated that it is far too early to make fundamental changes to the social distancing requirements in relation to the coronavirus emergency. So at this stage, we want to reiterate that boaters should avoid all non-essential travel on our waterways for the next few weeks and to make journeys only to access essential services and facilities – this will help ensure safety of boaters and staff.

We know boat owners have told us they are keen to get back out on the water in the near future. We are working hard to prepare for boaters to get out on the water as soon as it is safe to do so. Environment Agency teams will prepare for boat travel to resume by undertaking inspections and maintenance to river channels and structures to ensure they are safe.

In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement, lifting restrictions on spending time outdoors and allowing car travel to outdoor spaces irrespective of distance from Wednesday, boat owners can visit their boats from today (Wednesday 13 May 2020) to ensure they are well maintained, registered and ready for use once restrictions are lifted.

We will work as fast as we can to get the navigations ready for non-essential leisure cruising. We hope to allow some leisure cruising from June and will provide a further update setting out how and when you will be able to resume further leisure boating over the coming weeks.

We appreciate the boating community are keen to head out on the waterways at this time of year and we understand the huge strain this continues to put on the boating and leisure industry. However we believe that this is still the right thing to do at this time to help ensure safety of our customers and staff.

In line with the government announcements about slight changes to the lockdown, from 13 May you may see the resumption of angling and watersports on our waterways. We continue to encourage all waterways users to respect the needs of our residential waterways community and maintain appropriate social distancing, following the guidance of organisations such as British Canoeing and British Rowing where it is available.

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