Travel for essential maintenance for boats allowed

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The Scottish government is to allow 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.’

James Allan CEO at RYA Scotland added: ‘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.’