Saltford mooring ban to be reviewed after legal challenge

  Posted: 09.06.21 at 10:51 by By Local Democracy Reporter Stephen Sumner

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A winter mooring ban in Saltford is set to be reviewed after liveaboard boaters mounted a legal challenge.

Following years of mounting tensions between people living on the water and homeowners in Mead Lane, Bath and North East Somerset Council banned mooring between November and the end of February.

A judicial review has now adjourned so cabinet members can review the decision.

Boater Avril McGovern said the council could face further legal action if it presses ahead with plans to remove the 14-day moorings that those who live on the water say are a vital resource.

The authority said it will do its best to balance the needs of the boating community, local residents and other groups interested in the site.

Ms McGovern, whose friend filed the judicial review, said: “The Atkins reports didn’t mention anything about a seasonal closure, they [the cabinet] just made it up. They’ve done that to pander to the local residents because they couldn’t take everything away.”

Residents had branded B&NES Council “negligent” for allowing mooring in Mead Lane and said it was “imperative” they were taken away.

They accused boaters of criminal activity, staying longer than they were allowed, running their engines for extended periods, damaging the riverbank and littering.

However, Atkins, consultants brought in by the council, found “no indication that mooring is adversely affecting bank stability”.

It said Mead Lane was “possibly the only place on the river where mooring for 14 days is practical and legitimate” and it was unlikely anywhere else on the River Avon is as suitable for mooring.

Ms McGovern added: “The Atkins report recommends leaving the moorings there and enhancing them.

“The council say they’re extensively consulting but they aren’t listening to the consultation, they’re making their own mind up.”

The council is aiming to remove the 14-day moorings by the end of 2022, once other locations have been identified.

But Ms McGovern said boaters had heard nothing and could only assume no progress had been made.

“What sort of assurance are you able to give of the safety of any new space? Are you going to do another survey to provide the same level of safety if you’re going to put us anywhere else?” she asked.

“If you’re going to move us we need to know it’s got the same amenities – but we know that’s not possible. There is nowhere else. That’s the issue. All the locations identified in the Atkins report are not suitable.”

A council spokesperson said work had started to look for suitable locations for mooring and all relevant parties will be engaged as it develops the proposals.

“The council has always and will continue to do its best to balance the needs of the boating community, local residents and other groups with an interest in this location,” the spokesperson said.

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