Anti-social behaviour by a minority of boat owners is causing misery on the Cally section of Regent’s canal
An unusual and serious form of anti-social behaviour is blighting the neighbourhood adjoining the Regent’s Canal between the canal bridges at Caledonian Road and Maiden Lane (York Way). It is caused by the behaviour of a small number of people who have begun to moor boats semi-permanently on the canal, contrary to the rules of the Canal and River Trust and in breach of environmental protection laws.
Some of the current group of people who are semi-permanently moored on this sensitive section of canal, run engines, generators, burn smoky fuel, play music, dump rubbish on the towpath and put effluent into the water. In late March, a mature plane tree on the towpath came down and some boaters have been cutting it up to burn the wood in their stoves.
Smoke from wood-burning stoves is polluting the many homes alongside the canal – including the Council and Housing Association estates at Tiber Gardens, Treaty Street and York Way Court – and the playground and classrooms at Copenhagen Primary School.
In response, Islington Council is working-up a series of enforcement measures against people causing noise nuisance and, most significantly, creating pollution by static diesel engines, generators or burning smoke-producing wood. Formal warnings have been given to some boaters requiring them to cut down noise especially from generators and static engibnes after 8pm.
The Council is also very firmly demanding that the Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) must enforce mooring rules which are a condition of each boat’s license.
Paul Convery says “The people living on the boats have little regard for the places they have moored alongside. There is a group of anti-social boat-dwellers who believe they can pursue alternative lifestyles without any regard for the impact their presence has on residents by creating noise and smoke nuisance.”
Rupert Perry adds “The canal is a pretty big space so there is no need for boat owners to moor adjacent to peoples’ homes if that causes a problem. Most moorings are for a temporary period and permanent moorings require planning permission. The planning process enables issues such as proximity to houses, noise, pollution and impact on short term moorings etc to be considered.”
Cally Councillors do not say that all boaters should be removed from the canal. The main purpose for the Canal and River Trust in maintaining the country’s canals is to provide navigable waters for cruising boats.
But we do want stretches of the canal kept clear of moorings so that other canal users can carry on doing the enjoyable things historically we have done for years: fishing, feeding the ducks or just enjoying proximity to the water. It is one of the Trust’s principal objects that it maintains the canals for (a) towpath walking and (b) “recreation or other leisure-time pursuits of the public in the interest of their health and social welfare”. Endless lines of moored boats mean that is denied to thousands of towpath users.
On stretches where mooring is reasonable, we want the rules to be respected and the towpath used short-term by people who are cruising the canal for recreation. And we want these short-stay boats to comply with the 1993 Clean Air Act and the 1995 Environment Act by not making noise or fumes from burning, static engines or portable generators. In return we believe, that CRT should provide proper facilities for those visiting boats, such as fresh water, mains electricity and regular refuse collection along the towpath.
For reference, there are two main types of moorings on Britain’s canals:
- Short term: either “casual moorings” where boats may tie-up for 14 days (unless otherwise indicated); and “visitor moorings” which are places designated for shorter periods only, e.g. Islington Visitor Moorings at Noel Road where the maximum permitted stay is 7 days with a £25 per day charge thereafter.
- Long term: these are often called “home moorings” and specified in a boat’s license where a boat is kept when not used for cruising. These will be authorised residential moorings, leisure moorings or other commercial moorings (all of which must have planning permission).