Residents of canal boats in Rickmansworth say proposed new mooring rules will "destroy their way of life".

Proposals currently being looked into by the Canal and River Trust include imposing mooring restrictions and a £25 a day charge on popular stopping places on the Grand Union Canal between Stockers Lock and Batchworth Lock.

The consultation involving 22 sites across the south east is intended to make it easier for leisure boaters to visit the most popular areas, the trust says.

Currently, all licensed boats using the canal are allowed by law to stop and moor by the towpath for 14 days.

But live-aboard boaters believe the proposals could result in popular areas being abandoned by the community.

Mike Doherty, who lives on his boat which is currently moored near Batchworth lock, said: "We live on our boats all year round, some of us have children in school, others work nearby or, like myself, work in London and others need to access healthcare and other local amenities.

"This is all do-able while still sticking to the 14 day rule. It will not be do-able if the trust’s new proposals come into force. These proposals will destroy our way of life."

Steve Jay from South East Boaters added: "The Canal and River Trust says it has a problem with boats over-staying, but they already have the 14 day rule.

"They need to enforce that, not impose these draconian new mooring restrictions that will make boating difficult for everyone who uses the canal."

Other boat residents say the proposed changes could prove disruptive for their children if it prevents them securing places at local schools.

"As fully paid up licence holders, we move around all the time and have been trying to get a secure mooring for seven years now. I was trying to get a local school place for my two year old daughter in the next few months, but these ridiculous and unfair proposals will effectively ban me from ever mooring in Rickmansworth, because to move every 2 days I would have to move a 34 ton boat on my own with my daughter being unsupervised and that would be dangerous," says Evania Inward.

"As a mum with two children aged two and nine, I am disgusted with CRTs proposals to charge us £25 a day if we stop for over a day in certain areas. I am lawfully entitled to moor for 14 days at a time in areas where we can access basic facilities like water, doctors and shops. Many of the areas these not covered by the restricted mooring proposals are unfit to moor, poorly maintained and dangerous," says Laura Parkhouse.

A Canal and River Trust spokesman said: "There are more boats on the canal network than at any time in history - more even than at the height of the industrial revolution. "The canals are in Trust for the nation and it is the boats that help make them special places - reasons why people want to visit, want to volunteer and want to donate money to help look after their local canal or river.

"As the charity that looks after the waterways, from time to time there are ideas and decisions to make where we want to get input from the people that use and visit the canals. That’s why we ask people to take part in consultations on certain issues and that is what’s taking place in this instance.

"We’re asking boaters for their views on the idea of changing how long boats can moor in 22 of the busiest places in the South East (specifically on the Grand Union Canal and the Oxford Canal). The reasoning behind the consultation is that the suggested changes could make it easier for leisure boaters, as well as those living on their boats, to visit the most popular places."