National Boat Count 2023


The Canal & River Trust’s annual National Boat Count has shown a 1.9% rise in boat numbers on its network across England and Wales and that external economic factors may be affecting boaters, with licence compliance now standing at 93%, down from 94.1% last year.

PHOTO: Janet Richardson

The national licence compliance picture is impacted by boats in the Trust’s London & South East region, which has seen the most significant growth in boat numbers in recent years and where licence compliance has dropped to 86% (overall compliance excluding London & South East is 95.1%).  

To help compliance, the Trust will continue to ensure that boats are identifiable (unidentified boats are recorded as unlicensed by default) and review its licensing processes and resourcing.

Article continues below…

Read Towpth Talk FREE online every month here.

The 1.9% increase in boat numbers nationwide includes a 3.1% increase in continuous cruisers. Rises in boat numbers across the network range from 1.1% in the West Midlands to 2.8% in London & South East.

Matthew Symonds, national boating manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “The National Boat Count gives us a clear picture of what’s happening with boats on our waterways and supports our day-to-day work. This year we have seen a small drop in licence compliance, driven by a more significant drop in London, which may suggest that the economic environment is having an impact.

“As a charity, we’re also faced with a real financial challenge. The cost of maintaining the 250-year-old canal network is rapidly increasing, the damaging effects of climate change are growing more frequent, and the future of our government grant, which currently provides a quarter of our income, is uncertain. The income we receive from boat licences, around 10% of our total, is more important than ever to enable us to maintain the network for navigation.

Article continues below…

“We will do everything we can to support boaters to stay on the water, and our boat licence customer support team works with boaters to find solutions on a personal basis – no two cases are the same. We always urge boaters to talk to us, and in most cases, we’re able to find a way to keep people on the water.”

Sadly, on occasion, the Trust does have to take robust action to remove boats when all other avenues have failed, despite the boat licence customer support team’s best efforts to resolve matters. In 2022-23, 78 unlicensed, including many abandoned boats, were removed from the network.

#nationalboatcount #towpathtalk #canals #canalsandrivers #narrowboat #rivers #waterways #lifeonthecut #boating #boats #canallife #canallifeuk

Article continues below…

Get Towpath Talk newspaper delivered every month. Click here to subscribe.

Read Towpath Talk FREE online here.

Sell your boat here.