Three boaters prosecuted for Broads navigation offences

The Broads Authority highlights three recent prosecutions of boat owners for numerous counts of failing to navigate with care and caution and of breaking the speed limit on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.

Ranger with speed gun

The Authority is committed to prosecuting those who put the Broads and its users at risk. Piloting over the speed limit and dangerous boat handling causes distress to people enjoying the Broads. It is also a real danger to wildlife and has the potential to cause serious damage and injury.

On 16 February at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court, Mr Ryan Drew (age 30) of Harleston, Norfolk, the owner of boat ‘Disco Volante’, was convicted of three counts of failing to navigate with care and caution, and of breaking the speed limit on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.  The Magistrates imposed a £1000 fine for the combined offences, a proportion of costs of £500 was ordered and £100 victim surcharge applied.

On the same day, Mr Mark Colman (age 49) of Bradwell, Norfolk, the owner of ‘Beaver Las Vegas’ was convicted of failing to navigate with care and caution, and of breaking the speed limit on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. His fine was £800, £464 full costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

In another case at Norwich Magistrates Court on 3 February, Mr Michael Walker (age 34) of Upton, Norfolk, the owner of ‘Yeah Buoy’ was fined for navigating without care and caution, with unacceptable manoeuvres and excess speed. He was also fined for failure to obey/conform with lawful direction. He was issued one collective fine of £650, costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £65.

The Authority recently appointed Jon Hopes as Senior Ranger, working on Compliance and Safety, to process prosecutions and compliance with the Boat Safety Scheme. His work will free up time currently spent by Rangers preparing case files for offences such as speeding and non-payment of tolls. Prosecution is always a last resort, used once all other conversations and avenues have failed. Jon’s role will allow Rangers to spend more time out on the Broads, helping new and experienced visitors.

Boats on the Broads

Senior Ranger for Compliance and Safety, Jon Hopes said of the court cases,

“Preparing a prosecution file for a hearing at criminal court is time consuming and takes Rangers away from their other duties. We want to raise awareness to river users of the importance of keeping to speed limits, and navigating with care and attention. These cases should be a deterrent to others.

“Maintaining the 126 miles of navigational waters is expensive, and all the money raised from our boat owners’ tolls is spent on maintenance, dredging and navigational improvements”.

The Authority is entirely dependent upon income from tolls to fund all maintenance, dredging and mooring improvements on the navigation. It is the only major navigation authority in the UK that does not regularly receive central funding for this role. Where boat owners are genuinely struggling to pay their tolls, the Authority will listen and work with them.

Going above the boating speed limits increases boat wash and damages the river banks through erosion.  Wash from the speeding vessel can cause damage to moored vessels and capsize smaller craft, like kayaks and canoes.

The Authority asks anyone who witnesses boats that are speeding or being driven carelessly to note details such as the boat name or registration, take photos or videos if they can, and report the incident to Broads Control on 01603 756056 or by emailing:

Thursday 25 February 2021