THE owner of two boats was recently fined £800 and ordered to pay costs of almost £21,000 for obstructing a busy part of the River Thames
Alistair Trotman broke safety byelaws when mooring the barges he rented out as accommodation at one of the busiest sections of the river, at Molesey Lock in Surrey.
At Staines magistrates’ court on January 19, he was ordered to pay the Environment Agency’s costs of £20,591.40 and a victim surcharge of £80.
The Environment Agency took the 55-year-old to court for compromising the safe passage of other boats through the lock. Trotman kept Kupe and Rhythm of River, each 25m long, in the same spot next to EA land for months.
Boats moored permanently without the consent of the landowner can only remain stationary on the non-tidal Thames for up to 24 hours – and mustn’t cause an obstruction to other traffic.
Staines Magistrates last year convicted Trotman, who lives on board Kupe, at Kingston-upon- Thames, of berthing the boats for longer than legally allowed. He was also guilty of ignoring orders from the Thames harbour master to move them.
Colin Chiverton, environment manager for the River Thames at the Environment Agency, said:
“Most boats using our locks do so lawfully and continue along the river. Trotman’s £800 fine and nearly £21,000 costs, instead of the taxpayer footing the legal bill, show the result of not doing so.
“The Environment Agency also maintains some limited short-stay public moorings along almost 150 miles of the non-tidal River Thames to encourage pleasure boating and enable secure berthing at set locations. We urge all Thames boat-owners to consider the size and type of vessel they use and how to comply with mooring requirements.”
The court heard evidence from Environment Agency officers that Trotman’s inconsiderate actions exposed other boats and their crews to obstruction and possible danger.
District judge Susan Cooper ruled in favour of the harbour master’s evidence the boats “were likely to affect the navigation of other vessels” in a stretch of water narrowed by Trotman’s actions.
Trotman did move Rhythm of River a few metres from its original position after being warned legal action was a possibility, but he was still in breach of the harbour master notices issued against both boats.
In keeping the boats in place and failing to comply with the harbour master’s two notices to move the boats, Trotman breached the Thames Navigation Licensing and General Byelaws 1993 and the Thames Conservancy Act 1932. He was fined £200 for each of the four offences.