EU plans to regulate leisure boating have been modified after protests from boaters' organisations.

Under the proposal being put before MEPs boaters would have had to pass a 'driving test' before taking to canals and rivers.
Organisations representing boaters and the marine trade reacted with anger and the plan has now been removed from a revised Recreational Craft Directive to be considerd next month.

But the idea plus another attempt to prevent use of red diesel on boats remains in the document's preface as a long-term aim.

The RYA was among those protesting over the idea.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA's Cruising Manager said the proposal now had no legal force. But he said it's inclusion in the preamble had only served to confuse and alarm people because it drew the European Commission’s attention to the issues.

He said: "It is the RYA’s position that the sole remit of the Directive is to lay down the essential technical and safety requirements for watercraft that are bought and used in the EU.

"[It is] our view that the RCD revision should not include these recommendations as they cover issues that do not fall within the EU’s responsibilities."

Earlier David Fletcher, chairman of the National Association of Boat Owners,  said: “There is just no evidence this is needed. It will just mean more bureaucracy and more cost.”

The Inland Waterways Association said: “If unchallenged [this] would have major implications for all UK boaters as it introduces the idea of compulsory driving-type licences for boaters.”

Mr Fletcher said: “There is a great difference between taking a barge down a busy waterway like the Rhine and a narrow boat travelling along the Grand Union Canal. But these are being considered as exactly the same.

“There has been no public debate whatsoever, there is no evidence it is needed, it would invariably lead to extra expense and could have a major effect on holiday hire boat companies.”

Les Etheridge Inland Waterways Association national chairman said: “The IWA has been in discussion with MEPs on this matter and we are hoping that this early action and continued support from other boaters through their own MEPs will help defend the situation, but it is important for UK waterway interests to speak up and make themselves heard to avoid such measures gaining ground through low levels of interest.”

Story dated November 13th 2012

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