In the UK, there are two distinctly separate forms of national organisation. One is obviously official such as the UK national and local governments with all the lower levels of administration and the other is the voluntary sector where a great many of our ways of life are administered by purely unpaid members. Into this sector are such organisations as the National Trust, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, charities such as Royal Society for the protection of animals and the Canal and River Trust. Unpaid volunteers provide the great majority of workers for these non-government organisations (NGO)

The Electric Boat Association in the UK is an NGO and its objectives are to encourage and promote the construction, development, restoration, conversion to and use of electrically powered boats by all suitable means, to stimulate public interest in electrically powered boats and their environmental benefits.

It is funded by voluntary subscriptions and managed by a democratically elected committee which meets both physically at boating events, meetings and for cruising and also via digital means. Its main communication is by its website and the association has both private and commercial representation. The committee has a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, treasurer, membership secretary, webmaster and editor of the magazine within the website. There is also a non-executive President who is a figure head usually of substantial experience and highly respected. All are unpaid volunteers and there is no office building as such.

The nearest country to ours in these regards is the Netherlands which has its own EBA. Australia, too, has an EBA and it is limited by having to use the few rivers that flow out to sea around its coast. France, Germany and many other continental European countries have canals far larger than ours but what is important, currently, is that governments, conscious of the need to rein in global warming, have recognised the part played in this by pollution and have started to prohibit the use of vessels propelled by fossil fuels on their inland waters. Certainly, Amsterdam is now banning diesel use in vehicles and vessels already and Lithuania too. In the UK it applies to many of our lakes and reservoirs.

The International Hybrid and Electric Expos in Amsterdam and California USA are mainly concerned with sea going vessels from private yachts to oil tankers and cruise liners. Entrance to the world’s harbours is beginning to require only electric or fossil fuelled free propulsion. Thus, the development of giant rim thruster designs. Only such large international corporations can afford the development costs of modern electric propulsion but that development is beginning to reach the smaller vessels used on inland waters. Another aspect which is beginning to come into boat propulsion is the advance in electric cars technology arising from EU directives and the recognition by states in the USA of the health dangers of particulate pollution.

We are on the cusp of a move from burning fossil fuels to electric power for vehicles and vessels. Battery development has been more active in the past decade than in a century but is finding it a challenge. Hydrogen fuel cell production of charged particles may by pass need to charge batteries from other means. It is all very exciting and the general public anywhere is not really aware of what is going on because politics plays such an important part in the replacement of petrol and diesel.

The use of electric propulsion within the non-tidal inland waterways of the UK runs into thousands of miles and these are maintained by both government departments, trusts and historic companies. All boaters have to pay fees to have vessels on inland waters. Few vessels used around the UK shoreline are electrically powered due to the strong currents, tides and dangerous conditions such as rocks, sand bars and weather changes. So, the UK EBA is keenly concerned with its own government’s part in supporting electric boating on its inland waterways and presses this issue whenever it is able to do so. It supports its business members, provides the opportunity for cruising weekends and appears at boating shows to promote its objects.

It is optimistic that at some stage its objects will have succeeded and boats propelled by electricity will feature as the highest percentage of all vessels in the UK inland waterways.


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Chairman EBA (UK)