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Call for action over overhanging trees on River Thames

A member of a motorboaters association has called for action to be taken over overhanging trees on the River Thames.

Tony Riley, from Brambling Way, says it is becoming difficult for two boats to pass each other on the stretch of the river from Maidenhead Bridge to Boulters Lock due to the overgrowing vegetation.

The 78-year-old – who uses this section with his own boat – says not enough action is being taken by the authorities, adding the river is ‘just as much of a highway as the road’.

The stretch of the River Thames which runs parallel to Ray Mead Road is home to two islands called Grass Eyot and Bridge Eyot.

These are the responsibility of the Royal Borough, with the Environment Agency in charge of the safe navigation of the river itself.

“The work that needs doing could probably be done by a competent arboriculturist,” Tony - who set up Thames Motorboaters Association – said.

“We are now heading into primary boating season and it is difficult for two boats to pass each other in that channel.

“[The river] is just as much of a highway as the road alongside it. I have been pursuing the borough about this for two years now. The problem is the Environment Agency is strapped for cash [and it] expects the landowners to do it. They are short of money but so is everybody.”

The Royal Borough replied to Tony over a series of tweets last week.

“Ivy will be severed on a number of trees shortly allowing the ivy to die back naturally to facilitate further inspection of the trees and ensure safe passage of boats,” it said.

“The trees need to be inspected first to assess the situation and whether any other health and safety works are required. This will be carried out in one phase later in the summer.”

When asked if he was happy with the borough’s response, Tony said: “They talk about health and safety issues – what about the health and safety of the boats? Later in the summer – this year’s boating season will be getting towards its conclusion.

“We are not looking to cause trouble, but we are paying significant sums of money to use the river.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Overhanging trees that may cause disruption on a river are primarily the responsibility of the owner of the land on which they sit.

“There are no trees on land next to the River Thames at Maidenhead owned by the Environment Agency.

“Management of any trees where branches have grown over the river would either be a matter for the private landowner or the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. We do not believe they currently cause an obstruction to boats, in any event.”

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