Shake-up in Broads boat tolls system could be ‘most significant change’ since 1981

Sailing boats and pleasure boats on the Norfolk Broads at Ludham.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY; COPY:; FOR:EDP

Sailing boats and pleasure boats on the Norfolk Broads at Ludham.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY; COPY:; FOR:EDP NEWS; © ARCHANT NORFOLK 2010 (01603 772434) - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A major shake-up in how Broads boat tolls are calculated could soon come into force after a year of roundtable talks.

The Broads Authority hopes to remove the current system, which uses both a variable and fixed cost, and instead use one charge based on the size of the craft.

The announcement comes after a year of research by a tolls working group and is intended to make the system fairer.

Though small boats would pay less, bigger vessels would see their cost rise. The authority estimates that after the annual tolls rise is imposed 44pc of boaters will pay less next year than they do currently.

John Packman, chief executive, said: 'For a long while there has been an unequal relationship between size of boat and the amount of toll paid. While we understand that there will inevitably be those who benefit more than others from this recommended change the key aim is for the system to be fairer overall so that the charge is based on size and size alone.'


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The eight traditional wherries would pay a flat rate and rowing boats, kayaks and canoes will also be charged a fixed price depending on whether they are private or commercial.

The majority of boats will be divided into various categories and will pay a fixed amount per square metre.

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Jacquie Burgess, chairman of the authority and joint chairman of the working group, said there was 'no perfect answer' to the tolls system but said she felt the group had 'come up with the best and fairest solution possible'.

The navigation committee will debate the plans next Thursday, before the full authority makes a final decision.

A report produced ahead of the meeting says it would be the 'most significant change in the way navigation charges are levied since 1981', when the system moved from tonnage to area.

If approved, it is hoped the plans would boost declining numbers of small boats.

The working group has also recommended that a trial of not displaying toll plaques, which was introduced this year, should be extended for a further year.

Greg Munford, chief executive of Richardson's and a private boat owner, said the plans looked 'sensible'.

'It is far easier to understand and provides a solution that would be hard to argue is not fair when the toll each boat owner pays is based on the size of vessel that they own,' he said.

• What do you think of the plans? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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