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Scottish Government allows travel to boats for essential maintenance

by Marc Turner, RYA Scotland 10 Mar 13:29 GMT
Travel for essential maintenance for boats allowed © RYA

Scottish Government allows travel to boats for essential maintenance in line with guidance for owners of second homes.

Fergus Ewing Cabinet Secretary of Rural Economy and Tourism acknowledged the need for parity with second homes following representations by Sail Scotland supported by RYA Scotland and British Marine Scotland. Travel exemptions have been confirmed as allowing owners of private boats to travel to their vessels to undertake essential maintenance.

National Regulations are intended to be flexible to allow a person to leave home for a genuinely essential purpose. Rather than setting out an exhaustive list of every reasonable excuse, it leaves it to the individual to make a judgment as to whether a purpose is essential or not.

As the entire sector is effectively closed to the public as part of a national lockdown, only travel for essential maintenance is presently allowed. Travel for cosmetic improvements or preparatory work for the coming season will open-up as restrictions are relaxed in the coming weeks on par with other sectors.

The Scottish Government will try to ensure examples are included in future guidance but where this is not explicitly stated, it would be for the individual to determine the circumstances whether or not travel would be acceptable and essential.

Alan Rankin CEO at Sail Scotland said: "During our ongoing representations to government since the outbreak of Covid-19 for the commercial marine tourism sector we also sought to ensure the rights of leisure boaters remain in line with those of second home-owners. The positive response from Government to this 'ask' is very welcome and we look forward to continuing this dialogue to ensure our industry has parity with other leisure and tourism sectors."

Speaking on hearing the news James Allan CEO at RYA Scotland said "This is great for concerned boat owners and is a very welcome and pragmatic view from The Scottish Government. I am very grateful to our colleagues at Sail Scotland and British Marine Scotland for helping to get this message to the right ears. Their support has been key to this success."

"Parity with the legislation for second homes was all we were asking for and we must now act responsibly with this extension to travel exemptions. Our community needs to understand clearly that this is for essential maintenance and we must all think hard on just what essential means."

British Marine Scotland, the industry body for the marine leisure sector, added. "We are extremely supportive of the steps taken by the Cabinet Secretary and the clarification around the ability to carry out essential maintenance to leisure craft. The sector is also keen to see a road map for recovery out of COVID restrictions and we will be working hard to encourage the Scottish Government to publish guidance as soon as possible to allow businesses and users to plan for getting afloat and additional maintenance as soon as it safe to do so. Many waterside communities rely on marine tourism for valuable revenue and jobs, so we are keen to see boats becoming active as soon as waterside communities are able to welcome them."

Full current RYA Scotland guidance for boating in Scotland is available here and specifically highlights:

Essential maintenance is work which if not undertaken would cause failure or become an imminent safety issue. Some examples are; repairs to prevent water ingress, winterising engines, pumping out bilges and maintaining/ replacing mooring and berth warps.

Essential maintenance should be completed as quickly as possible. Travel for essential maintenance should not be used as a pretext to spend the day aboard 'pottering' or for a weekend away. You should not stay longer than the length of time required to undertake essential maintenance.

Following today's announcement by the First Minister RYA Scotland will be reviewing the current guidance in full with further links for advice for members, clubs, classes and training centres, as well as recreational boating in the UK and abroad are below:

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