A boat owner moored at Abingdon has been convicted of failing to register his boat for use on the River Thames.

Environment Agency officers discovered Peter Bristow had no valid registration for his narrow boat vessel, Ladybird, moored in meadows opposite Wilsham Road during routine checks in July.

It is a criminal offence to keep, use or let for hire an unregistered vessel on a waterway. He was handed a warning notice requiring him to comply with the law within 14 days.

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After he did not pay, officers revisited in August and he was given a letter explaining that he would be prosecuted if he did not register within seven days.

Mr Bristow did not do this, so the Environment Agency’s legal team notified the court, and a summons was issued.

Oxford Magistrates’ Court was told riverside inspections by officers revealed Mr Bristow had skipped the annual £378.72 registration fee, determined by the length and width of the boat.

Including costs and compensation, he was required to pay a total of £668.72.

Environment manager at the Environment Agency, Colin Chiverton said: “We were both patient and understanding with Mr Bristow, though his actions made it clear that he was unwilling to pay a fee that goes straight towards the upkeep of our rivers to support navigation.

“Although the fine itself was minimal due to circumstances, Mr Bristow is still responsible for full payment of court costs as well as the original fee.

“Renewal invitation letters for 2024 registrations have gone out to everyone that registered their boat this year.

“If you have a boat on the Thames, now is the time to renew; from January our enforcement teams will be patrolling the river checking for valid registrations.

"In 2024 once a summons has been issued, we won’t stop court proceedings, even if the boat owner pays their registration fee.”

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Similar to excise duty for road vehicles, boat registration fees allow the Environment Agency to manage and maintain more than 600 miles of inland waterways across England.

Mr Bristow entered a guilty plea on December 1 of breaching the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.

He was fined £40 and ordered to pay costs of £250 and his outstanding boat registration fee of £378.72 for 2023.

Owners of powered or non-powered boats including paddleboards must register their boats annually with the Environment Agency for use on the non-tidal River Thames.

Boat registration on the Thames starts on January 1 every year and any boats found on the water after that date, without having registered, may be liable to a fine.

On August 31 during a river wide census, Environment Agency officers recorded the locations of 11,310 boats on the river.

Boats can be registered by calling 03708 506 506 or on the government website.