Unauthorised moorings in the Borough

We are aware of an increase in boats moored without permission along the River Thames. Within the Public Right of Navigation there is deemed a right for boat owners to stop on land, subject to the necessary landowners consent, for a reasonable period. The Borough follows the Environment Agency’s policy that 24 hours is considered a reasonable time within normal navigation. Boats are entitled to stay for longer however, provided they have the landowner’s consent to do so.

The River has a complex range of land owners, and the law only allows the owners of the land that the boats are moored on to take action against an unauthorised mooring. This would include any potential byelaw which would only be effective on Elmbridge owned land. Land owners could include the Environment Agency, Network Rail or in a minority of cases Elmbridge Borough Council. At this point the landowner could consider applying to the Courts for a possession order, or other powers under their jurisdiction, to compel the boat owners to move their vessels. The sanctions for repeated trespass offences are increasingly stringent, so this is the most effective method for dealing with this issue, and is the Environment Agency’s recommended approach.

Anyone who suspects a boat is moored to land without consent, should first contact the owner of that land to ensure that they are aware and can take appropriate action to resolve the matter, should they choose to do so.

Elmbridge Borough Council has no powers to move/evict boats which are not moored on Elmbridge owned land but continues to work with other agencies to try and resolve this issue. We are working closely with Surrey Police and the EA who are taking action against a number of unauthorised moored boats on their land.

The Environment Agency (EA) will also seek to take action against any incidents of pollution in the river that are reported to them. If you witness any dumping of waste into the river you can report to the EA on their hotline 0800 807060 and the EA will investigate.  

The Environment Agency working in partnership with other agencies including Surrey Police and Elmbridge Council undertakes regular patrols and boat registration checks including unauthorised moored boats. All boats are required to have valid registration including boat safety certification and insurance. If boats are found not to comply, then the Environment Agency will seek to enforce and will prosecute. The EA will seek to take action against any owner of any vessel which has sunk and has failed to be removed. 

On May 20, The Environment Agency and Elmbridge Borough Council supported a Surrey Police-led operation on the Thames between Sunbury and Molesey locks. The Environment Agency removed 5 abandoned boats, issued 21 trespass notices to boats moored without consent to their land that they own, checked 75 boats for 2019 registrations and issued enforcement notices against the owners of 17 which were not registered. In addition, the Environment Agency is progressing legal action on a number of other cases in the area and is already planning additional boat removal operations. 

To report any other non urgent matter relating to the river please contact or telephone 03708 506 506 during office hours.

Current information on unauthorised moorings

  • Cigarette Island/Albany Reach
    Elmbridge Borough Council owns and manages the open space up to and including the river’s edge (excluding the concrete hardstand adjacent to the Bridge). Boats have moored here without consent from time to time. When this happens, the Council will serve the boats with a notice to leave and if they do not leave in compliance with this Notice, the Council will seek a removal order from the County Court. Notices have now been served on the boats currently moored here. The Council has secured a Court Undertaking against one owner of large vessels not to moor any vessel owned or controlled by him at or adjacent to Cigarette Island. Should these vessels return court action will be taken.

  • Ditton  Reach
    Elmbridge Borough Council owns and manages the open space up to and including the river’s edge. The Council was granted an order of possession against specific boats at this location in November 2018. 

  • Hurst Park
    The Environment Agency removed two vessels from Molesey Lock, where they were moored without permission, to its short-stay moorings site near Ferry Lane at Hurst Park. The Environment Agency currently permits boats to moor here, and at all its other short-stay moorings sites, free of charge but for 24 hours only. All vessels currently moored at this location are overstaying and are subject to enforcement action by the Environment Agency. 

  • Cherry Orchard Gardens 
    The council is aware of the issues at this stretch of the Thames in Molesey and is working with partners to secure a long term solution to this area.

    On 17 April Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) served Planning Contravention Notices on boats moored in this area, as well as persons with an interest in this land. These notices seek to gather further information regarding the use of the land in question.

    On the 8 August the Planning Compliance Team issued 9 Enforcement Notices for a number of moorings located north west of Cherry Orchard Gardens and adjacent to the tow path. The Council is in receipt of appeals against all the notices, the appeals are being consider by the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State. Further updates will be provided as appropriate. 

    The Council has now served persons in the vicinity of Cherry Orchard Gardens with a Community Protection Notice (Warning Letter) to cease any further removal of vegetation and trees and also not to add any further fences or buildings to the riverbank. If persons fail to comply with the above requirements within the timescales given, then Elmbridge Borough Council will consider serving a Community Protection Notice (CPN) which could lead to a fixed penalty notice or risk prosecution.

    The Environment Agency has also served relevant byelaw warning notices regarding the removal of vegetation, shrubs and trees and potential offences under the Thames Navigation Licensing & General Byelaws 1993.

    Surrey County Council are aware of the fences across the public highway and will investigate.  However, they prioritise all reports carefully and deal with immediate and significant safety issues first. At the present time, due to high numbers of reports, they are only able to deal with priority 1 and 2 issues. Priority 3, 4 and 5 issues will still be recorded and if resources allow, staff or volunteers will investigate. Please see their Maintenance and Enforcement Priority Statement which sets out their priorities 1-5. See also Surrey County Council - report a problem on a right of way.    

  • Miskins Wharf (Walton Rowing Club)
    Further to complaints received by the Council regarding the impact of mooring at Miskins Wharf on the Walton Rowing Club, Elmbridge Borough Council served the vessel moored at the said site with a Community Protection Notice (Warning Letter) on 8 August 2019 and a Community Protection Notice on 21 August 2019. The CPN asked the boat to leave the site within 24 hours, and if they fail to comply, the Council may take further enforcement action or a fixed penalty notice.

    At the same time, the Environment Agency have also written to the owner to advise the continued mooring as a potential offence under Sect.84 Thames Conservancy Act 1932. In breach of Harbour Master Direction which have been previously issued to the owner. The EA will be taking further action under this power if he fails to move.         

  • Walton Towpath (near Xcel Leisure Complex)
    The council is aware of the issues at this stretch of the Thames in Molesey and is working with partners to secure a long term solution to this area.

In most instances, the issues arising from moorings for the community are minimal. Surrey Police have been made aware and will be monitoring regularly.

On May 20, the Environment Agency served a number of trespass warning notices and boat registration enforcement notices to boats moored to its land in this location, and nearby. 

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