New measures to charge boat-users for morring on the River Lea Navigation have been described as “privatisation by stealth”.

The Lea Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA)on Thursday erected signs declaring “Leyton Marsh Moorings Private” on the Lea Navigation towpath at Leyton Marshes, in a move the authority says is aimed at ensuring better management of the area.

But campaigners oppose the move, claiming the LVRPA is further restricting access to the public space.

A spokeswoman for the Save Lea Marches (SLM) group said: “SLM oppose this latest measure, which is part of a relentless drive to restrict free public access to areas of the marshes for commercial gain, evident at the paddocks and former golf course in Waltham Forest.

“Taken together this is clearly privatisation by stealth of our public land of which the LVRPA are meant to be guardians.”

An LVRPA spokeswoman added increasing numbers of non-registered boats mooring in berths held by registered berth holders prompted the authority to act.

She said: “The land on the edge of Leyton Marsh, including the towpath, the riverbank and part of the waterways, have been owned by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority since 1979.

“This area needs to be maintained to ensure that berth holders feel safe and secure.”