Report pushes for light dues and registration for leisure boaters

Private boaters could be made to help pay for aids to navigation if Government follows recommendations in independent report

A new lighthouse tax and compulsory boat registration could be forced on leisure boaters if the Government follows the recommendations of a report commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) into the provision of marine aids to navigation.

The report, the Assessment of the Provision of Marine Aids to Navigation around the UK and Ireland, published last month, makes more than 50 recommendations, most of which don’t concern the average British leisure boater.

But two that could have a profound impact are the extension of light dues – the levy paid by commercial shipping to fund Britain and Ireland’s lighthouse authorities – to private boatowners and a compulsory registration scheme to make the collection of this tax easier.

“We believe there is also a strong case in principle for extending the [light dues] payment system to include those pleasure craft not already captured by the present system,” the report states.

“We have identified significant practical drawbacks, and it is likely that the introduction of a compulsory registration scheme would be required if all eligible to pay are to come within the net for charging.”

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The report goes on to suggest that £100 is the appropriate yearly charge for light dues for leisure boaters.
The RYA has written to the Government to express its concern that many of the report’s assumptions made in relation to leisure boating are flawed.

“[The RYA] has highlighted our concerns that the authors of the report have based their recommendations and conclusions on false assumptions and not taken due account of the views of stakeholders in the recreational sector,” it said.

The DfT, meanwhile, has said that the report is “only a start”, and that “before we make any revisions to the system of light dues we will carry out a full consultation with everyone who is affected and that will certainly include [RYA] members”.


Photo: Chris Ison/PA Photos


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