Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Broads Control - latest log

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The Broads Authority, police and fire and rescue service are stepping up patrols to prevent a serious accident or, worse, the waste of a young life as hot weather combined with school holidays brings out dangerous swimming and speeding boats.

Rangers have been giving safety advice to boaters and swimmers, including people in Caen Meadow near Wroxham who were getting in the way of passing boats and more than 40 others swimming in the mill pond at Horstead, some of whom were jumping from the mill over a concrete plinth into the fast flowing water.

While swimmers listened to our warnings and advice we had reports that they carried on after we left but police were alerted and asked to call in.

There was more drama at Norwich when a man jumped into the river from Foundry Bridge to escape police, and despite the best efforts of officers, he refused to come out.

Eventually he was arrested and was lucky to have been pulled out before being hit by a passing boat while, again in Norwich, a group of young people who were dangerously jumping in the busy river from another bridge were dealt with by rangers.

Broads Beat police and  an Environment Agency officer accompanied a ranger on a late launch patrol near Wroxham.

Two stag parties were stopped and given written warnings and advice while 42 fishing licences were checked resulting in two enforcement notices.

The previous week Breydon Water rangers followed up on a report of illegal skiing, which is only allowed for Broads Authority permit-holders who have complied with certain conditions, with signs on Breydon notifying people. We also followed up a call from police about a canoeist scaring birds at the high water roost on Breydon and are liaising with officers about keeping a check on this.

One of the Wroxham team rangers gave written care and caution warnings to four day boat crews following reports of them playing dodgems and jumping between boats in the Horning area.

Lastly a man called control to complain he had been attacked and hurt by a shire horse while walking on a footpath near Acle but he was referred to Norfolk County Council officers.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Broads swim danger warning

The temptation to take a cooling plunge might soar with the temperatures but rangers are warning of the life-threatening dangers of swimming in Broads rivers and lakes.

Head of Ranger Services Adrian Vernon said the Broads are full of unseen dangers.

“In the hot weather the rivers and broads look very inviting to cool off. But we recommend you stay on them rather than in them.

“The Broads are wild with all sorts of hidden hazards such as underwater weed, obstructions and currents which are dangerous to swimmers and in the past have caused people to drown.

“Despite the temperatures outside they are also cold and the shock of jumping in can sometimes kill.

“It is also dangerous to swim with lots of boats around, which may drive over you if you're not easily visible.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Latest incidents from Broads Control

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Teams were involved in a large-scale rescue mission after a hire cruiser trying to pass under Somerleyton bridge became stuck for nearly five hours.

The bridge was unable to swing and, with trains not allowed across, a major operation took place to try and free the craft.

But, despite trying to flood the vessel in order to lower it, the only thing that worked in the end was to wait for the tide to fall sufficiently. The bridge was finally working by 7.15pm – nearly five hours after the call was taken by Broads Control.

Spirit of Breydon’s turn of speed managed to save another hire boat - which had broken down - from smashing into Haven Bridge in the nick of time.

The hire cruiser engine had cut out on the lower end of Breydon Water and, although the crew dropped their mudweight, the strong tide was still dragging them into the harbour.

Spirit of Breydon was near Berney Arms when the call was taken, but shot across and just managed to hook up the cruiser before it could collide stern on with the bridge. The patrol launch’s powerful engine meant it was able to tow the cruiser against the tide to the safety of Great Yarmouth Yacht Station.

BA staff were on hand to help two people on hire boats who suffered falls. A day boat suddenly went astern while it was being moored at Norwich and a crewman holding the rope fell overboard. But a quay attendant got a lifeline to him and towed him to a ladder, with no serious injuries.

Another hirer fell from the cabin top into the front well of his cruiser, suffering back and leg injuries and needing to be directed to the nearest medical unit.

Lastly rangers have been clearing Sutton Slipway from an unusually high number of hovers - large floating sections of reed and vegetation which have broken away from the bank – and were called three times in a week to deal with them for the benefit of boaters.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Tourism post to be funded in full by National Parks grant

By Lorna Marsh, Head of Communications

A new role to market and promote the Broads as a special destination for visitors will be fully funded by the Broads National Park grant.

The decision was made at a meeting of the full Broads Authority today following strong opposition to the idea that 30% of the post’s cost could come from tolls income.

The post has been established with a small budget to work with local businesses and raise awareness of the Broads as a special destination to generate more visits and spending, particularly in the spring and autumn.

The Navigation Committee took the view last October that it should be a third funded by tolls income, subject to agreement being reached concerning the legal position, because of the benefits that visitors brings to the Broads and how tourism is supported by the Authority caring for the waterways.

But the full Authority decided today to fund the full £45,000 cost of the post and accompanying budget  through its National Park grant rather than have £13,500 of it met through tolls.

Tourism in the Broads is worth more than £460 million to the local economy, and the Authority works in partnership with local businesses to support it.

Last year the Authority decided that it should have a continuing role in the promotion of the Broads once the European funded Sustainable Tourism in Estuary Parks (Step) programme finished in June.

Step was a collaboration with Dutch and Belgian colleagues and brought in valuable new ideas as well as investment in new facilities and technology, but only lasted for three years.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Broads wider catchment area catch up to help solve issues

By Andrea Kelly, Senior Ecologist

A workshop to pinpoint possible solutions to issues in the wider area around the Broads attracted more than 60 delegates on Wednesday.

Hosted by the Broadland Catchment Area Partnership and held at the Assembly House in Norwich this workshop was the second in a series of three.

It focused on issues such as diffuse pollution, water abstraction and invasive species, with participants looking at evidence, how well this is understood and what more is required at this stage.

A survey sent out to delegates prior to the workshop collated the understanding of some of the evidence to date, putting this together in 50 statements about things that characterise the water environment and its benefits to people.

The statements outlined issues like nutrient levels in rivers and ground water, access and recreation and change in species and habitats. These were then looked at in more detail to improve the understanding of what evidence exists behind them.

Participants included a good balance of farmers, public and third sector organisations working on biodiversity and water matters, water company, rivers trusts and recreational interests.

The actions coming from the workshop will be collated and shared. These are likely include the need for improved communication to key audiences to increase awareness and understanding of the issues and prepare for informing the actions for the Broadland Catchment Partnership which will be discussed at the next workshop in October.

You can find out more about the Broadland Catchment Partnership here.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Busy few weeks for rangers

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Rangers have been involved in several incidents over the past few weeks with boats which had either significantly outstayed their moorings, gone adrift, run aground, had too many passengers or were subject to a surveillance operation after the hirer stated he was deliberately going to ignore the closed season in order to fish.

In one drama a hirer was lucky to miss all the underground stakes when, moving out of the channel on Breydon, he ran right through the Dickey Works before going aground. Another hire cruiser had a lucky near miss when a scaffold fitting fell from Vauxhall bridge as it was passing underneath.

One call to control came from a boater who, while anchored near Geldeston one night, had his craft dragged along by the suction effect of an unregistered cruiser going at about 25 to 30 knots with the wash coming over his boat and up the bank. Investigations are ongoing.

Another report was about a man who fell in from his boat and hurt himself at Polkeys Mill. He was rescued by two of the maintenance team working nearby before travelling to Norwich to get A&E treatment.

A family asleep on a hire cruiser moored at Norwich had a rude awakening when a youth jumped on their boat at 3am. The boy ran away but was later found in the water and police rescued him.

A crew caused havoc in Norwich when trying to navigate the river while hanging from the bridge as the boat passed under, hitting our moored dory and other boats along the way and breaking the rudder on their hired craft. They refused to stop on our orders but were found and evicted the following morning.

A calf was reported as possibly making its way ashore on the wrong side of the river after taking a swim at Beccles but when our ranger found two errant calves there they dutifully ran for their mothers.

One ranger helped police deal with youngsters when he snapped them drawing graffiti on the wall under the bridge at Granary Staithe. The picture was clear enough for a Broadsbeat officer to identify them and have a chat with them and their parents.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Dozens of people flock to annual public meeting

Visitors talk to Broads Authority staff and members at the new workshop
By Lorna Marsh, Head of Communications

We held a very successful annual public meeting at our new workshop in Thorpe on Saturday combined with an open morning showcasing our work.
The event gave around 50 attendees the opportunity to talk to staff and members about the work of the Broads Authority with various stands in the workshop displaying recent projects and priorities.
Chief Executive Dr John Packman gave a presentation repeated over two very productive and positive sessions in the upstairs meeting room followed by questions and answers.
Each session ended with a round of applause and a comment at the end of the first, and busiest, was that it had been a “lovely” public meeting as it gave visitors the chance to find out about the sometimes little known work the Authority was undertaking.
Stands in the workshop itself focused on planning, invasive species management, the work of our ecologists, visitor centres and tourism and dredging and maintenance projects.
John’s presentations went into further detail about achievements over the past year including: 
  • The European funded Prisma project which re-used dredged material to restore an eroded spit on Salhouse Broad
  • Work to improve access and interpretation at St Benet’s Abbey
  • Taking over the responsibility of Breydon water with the help of the new patrol launch Spirit of Breydon
  • The revamp of Great Yarmouth Yacht Station
  • Management of invasive species
  • The Love the Broads visitor giving scheme
  • The How Hill scrape which has enhanced the habitat and resulted in a breeding pair of avocets
  • Mud pumping at Heigham Sound
  • The money-saving move to Yare House
  • Various large scale planning decisions including the Pegasus development at Oulton Broad
  • A new mud wherry and of course the opening of the workshop to undertake 25% more dredging and save £75,000 a year for reinvestment in other front line services. 
He also listed the priorities for the future as improving facilities at Whitlingham, a new corporate website design, the catchment approach project to care for the wider Broads area and managing climate change.
A separate presentation was given on the significant work carried out so far on managing the river Chet.
Comments from the public included those relating to the Chet work, the tolls structure for unpowered boats, ongoing planning issues at Thorpe Island, canoe trails, moorings and the management of Breydon.
Many attendees also took up the opportunity to have a trip on the Spirit of Breydon.
The event followed the official opening of the workshop and the naming of the new mud wherry Iona the previous day, as reported in the Eastern Daily Press.

Welcome to the Broads Blog

by Lorna Marsh, Head of Communications

Welcome to the Broads Authority's blog, intended to keep everyone up to date on how we look after the Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk - Britain's magical waterland and part of the National Park family.

We want to provide more information about what we do and will be updating the blog regularly with up and coming events, news of what we have been up to and insights into the work of our staff and members.

We would like your feedback on any of the issues raised and also what you would like to hear about. Please send comments and suggestions to our email address.