Britain’s Narrowboat Trips Face Red Tape Ruin

Strasbourg, April 23rd — British narrowboaters face increased holiday prices and tour operators possible bankruptcy if a Commission proposal to hike passenger health and safety insurance on Britain’s canal users is enacted.

The Liability of carriers of passengers by boat in the event of accidents (Costa Report), which will be voted on in the European Parliament on Wednesday could require operators to carry liability per passenger up to around £325,000 (exact figure to be confirmed). This would substantially increase premiums.

Currently a passenger boat carrying 60 passengers pays between £1,200 and £1,500 in insurance premiums. To carry £20 million worth of cover, as is likely to be required under these proposals, would results in the costs of these premiums going up four fold i.e. up to £6,000. For a small passenger boat operator this is likely to wipe out any profit margin and seriously affect the viability of the business. (Source: The British Marine Federation).

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, says: “Forcing barges to apply the technical and insurance red tape that supertankers use could sink Britain’s boating holidays. The cost of insurance must reflect the level of risk involved and these proposed requirements appear to be far in excess of the level of risk actually involved for tourists using Britain’s canals. Passenger boats offer a unique way to experience our inland waterways and contribute to the tourism and rural economies.

Sally Banham at The British Marine Federation said “The effect will be considerable for the canal boat industry.

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