Friday, 5 December 2014

Broads charity wins UK coveted National Parks award

A charity which offers disabled and disadvantaged people the chance to go boating on the Broads has won the prestigious title of UK National Parks Volunteer Group of the Year.

The Nancy Oldfield Trust at Neatishead has for 30 years provided residential holidays and day trips on the water for disadvantaged people from all over the UK.

Some 65 trained volunteers take visitors sailing, motor boating and canoeing, maintain the boats in winter and help the five members of staff with administration and gardening.

One group from Sprowston Community Hub are both volunteers and visitors. One week they go motor boating and sailing, the next they maintain the garden.

Centre manager Stephen Bradnock said: “I am thrilled that our volunteers have been given the recognition they deserve because they are absolutely essential to the existence of the Trust and enabling people with disabilities to experience and enjoy the beautiful Broads environment. We rely completely on our volunteers yet they are a very modest group of people. They richly deserve this recognition.”

The Trust, which strives to bring a sense of excitement, freedom and adventure to its visitors’ lives, will receive a £1,000 bursary for future volunteer activity.  Stephen plans to ask the volunteers how they would like this money to be spent. 

The Trust has eight sailing boats and three motor cruisers, one of which is electric, with wheelchair lifts, toilets and a galley. It also has Canadian canoes which are rafted together for stability. Volunteer RYA instructors take clients sailing on nearby Barton Broad while all motor boat drivers hold the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate.

Last year the Trust spent £200,000 renovating its specially adapted holiday bungalow and converting an old garage into a classroom and reception area. The money was left in a legacy and a donation from Norwich MENCAP.

The volunteer awards are an annual opportunity for the UK's National Parks family to recognise the efforts of those deemed to have gone above and beyond the expectations of volunteers in helping to protect, maintain and enhance the environment and heritage of their area.

This year's judging panel comprised television presenter and outdoor enthusiast Helen Skelton, TV presenter Julia Bradbury, National Parks UK Director Kathryn Cook, and Simon Vingoe, the UK marketing manager for National Parks brand partner Merrell. The UK National Parks volunteer awards are supported by Merrell, Natural Resources Wales and Natural England.

This is the second award to be made to Nancy Oldfield Trust this week. The Trust also received the first Martin Broom Trophy in recognition of its long record of providing sailing opportunities for the disabled.

It was presented by the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association in memory of “a wise, tireless and unassuming worker for boating on the Broads” and was presented by Martin’s widow Jennifer.

For more information on the Nancy Oldfield Trust visit http://www.nancyoldfield.org.uk

To learn more about the winners visit www.nationalparks.gov.uk/aboutus/jobs/2014-volunteer-awards

Monday, 1 December 2014

Deadline looming for Navigation Committee applications

Anyone wishing to be considered for one of the vacancies on the Broads Authority's Navigation Committee has until 10 December to get their application in.

We are currently seeking to fill eight vacancies which will be available from March 2015 for co-opted members chosen specifically for the Navigation Committee, which advises the Authority on navigation issues before it comes to a decision.

Two of the eight co-opted members will also be appointed as members of the full Authority. Please visit the Navigation Committee appointments page on the Broads Authority website for further information.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Lowest tolls rise in Broads Authority history

Broads Authority members unanimously approved a 1.7% tolls increase on Friday – the lowest in the Authority's history.

David Broad, Broads Authority member and Chairman of the Navigation Committee, said the increase was very fair and the boating community seemed happy with it.

“The Broads tolls are very good value for money, especially when compared to other waterways and in the context of all the valuable work the Authority is doing.

“We are in the process of enhancing our network of free public moorings, other facilities and infrastructure, improving dredging  and ensuring our assets are updated and protected for the future. Therefore we need to increase tolls with inflation so we can continue to do more for the benefit of boaters.

“There is no regular Government funding for navigation so all this improvement and maintenance can only be funded from tolls.”

You can read more about this decision in the committee report.










Thursday, 20 November 2014

Hickling Broad work update

By John Packman, Chief Executive

Last week I convened a meeting of all the staff involved in Hickling to monitor our progress on a number of projects.

I know there is a great deal of interest in the future of our largest broad and as there are various complex elements to this I have included below a briefing on our current work and the planned programme to update on how we are progressing on the projects involved.

Large scale Hickling restoration long-term project

Officers have started work on developing a large scale project for Hickling looking at a multi-beneficial approach, involving erosion protection, island creation and channel dredging. The latest hydrographic survey data suggests that at least 40,000m3 of sediment contained in the navigation channel needs be removed (between Deep-Go Dyke and the Parish Staithe) together with 5000m3 from Catfield Dyke. Due to the migration of sediment, dredging of the channel would be required over a number of years to restore it to the specified depth of 1.5m.

A large scale dredging project needs to begin with pinpointing a dredging disposal site and location of one is currently underway. The Navigation Committee will need to be consulted to gauge its views on progressing with the channel dredging and where it lies within the current programme’s priorities. Bank restoration is also being investigated. All works will require Natural England and Norfolk Wildlife Trust consent.

Shorter term

A small scale dredging project for delivery in 2015/16 is being developed to address the siltation being experienced at the top end near the Pleasure Boat dyke and by the sailing club. Approximately 600 to 1000m3 of sediment could be removed with the disposal option being sourced locally. A further removal of 750m3 is also being planned at the mouth of Catfield Dyke. This project would rely on contractors removing the sediment and depositing it the identified areas, likely to be Duck Island and locally at a planned erosion protection site.

This project would address recent siltation concerns expressed by the sailing club and Parish Council, but will only provide some short term assistance. Our current work programme is fully committed and we will need to use contractors if we want to carry out the project this year. Given the high priority set for this by the Navigation Committee we are doing our best to bring the work forward to 2014/15 which may lead to a small overspend.

In development

A small scale erosion protection scheme located near Hill Common is in the development phase. Planning permission will be required and landowner consent needed. The objective is to repair some localised erosion, allowing a small quantity of dredged material to be reused and allow reed marsh to develop.

Joint funding options

We are in the very early stages of investigating a potential EU project bid. This project is in its infancy but looks to have considerable potential. If, following further investigation, the Authority decided to develop a bid for this funding, then staff work programmes in 2015/16 would need significant amendment to make space.

Summary

2014/15

• Negotiations with a local landowner on the availability of land for the disposal of dredged material underway. If successful then the Navigation Committee will be consulted on priorities. Discussions with Norfolk Wildlife Trust also ongoing.

• Small scale dredging project being developed ready for potential delivery this winter.

• Small scale erosion protection project in development at Hill Common for delivery in early 2015 if permissions and agreements secured.

• Further exploration of the potential EU project bid.

2015/16 to 2016/17

• Development of larger longer-term project subject to outcome of dredging disposal site location.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Broads control news - a busy half term

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Things have been busy for the rangers this half term week with rescues and incidents.

A hirer accelerated away from Reedham Quay with the stern line still connected and a cleat was ripped from the vessel and struck a crew member causing minor injuries.

Two vessels have been stuck on the mud on Breydon Water and two more have run aground on the Lower Bure.

A vessel reversed into the path of a trip boat in Wroxham and the resulting collision caused serious damage to the fibreglass cruiser but there were no injuries.

Two vessels were let go at Neatishead and a hire vessel hit a moored dinghy on the River Ant.

A holiday maker stepped off his vessel at St Benet’s Abbey moorings and slipped into the water but was quickly rescued.

Breydon Bridge has gone out of action and it’s not yet clear when it will be back in service.

With the darker evening and afternoons people have been caught out and several vessels have been reported travelling after dark, so please take care!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Broads control news - dealing with floods

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

On Tuesday after receiving flood alerts and warnings we decided to close Great Yarmouth Yacht Station to overnight mooring. It was just as well we did because the next morning the tide covered the yacht station and was above mooring post level.

Once the tide turned at Gt Yarmouth it dropped quickly but it remained high on most of the rest of the system. At its height the morning tide only left a 4 foot clearance under the Acle New Road Bridge at Great Yarmouth.

On Wednesday we had rangers out checking the system by road and river. The Waveney team rangers went to Beccles by road early but then were called by river to attend Haddiscoe where the river needed to be closed. Somerleyton bridge had a problem which was quickly resolved.

Other staff were out on Breydon Water and the Yare plus the Northern rivers. The quay ranger at Reedham released three vessels from the quay ,one of which managed to later go aground on Breydon Water after the high water had receded.

The rangers and ops team have been busy dealing with large debris that could cause a problem to navigation and have assisted to release hung up vessels at their moorings.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Broads volunteers up for prestigious national award!

Broads group the Nancy Oldfield Trust have been shortlisted for the prestigious National Parks Volunteer Awards.

The trust, which for 30 years has provided water-based activities in the Broads for disabled and disadvantaged people from all over the United Kingdom, beat dozens of entrants to be one of five shortlisted for the group category in the 2014 awards.

A spokesperson for National Parks UK said: "The standard for this year's awards was incredibly high and exemplary of the amazing work being done by volunteers throughout the 15-member National Parks family."

Some 60 volunteers at the Nancy Oldfield Trust help provide sailing, rafted canoeing, motor boating and other activities based on the water. Volunteers also carry out most of the boat and building maintenance at the trust's centre in Neatishead.

Volunteers participate in a number of events held on the Broads to promote access to what is an inherently inaccessible environment; they also promote trust work through talks and by direct approaches to potential visitor groups.

The 2014 National Parks Volunteer Awards are being given in four categories: Individual, Young Person, Volunteer Project and Volunteer Group. Judges will soon return to the discussion table and winners will be announced in November.

For more information visit the National Parks UK website.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

In house launch maintenance saves Authority money

Motor launch Ant inside the workshop at Griffin Lane undergoing her annual refit.
Four of the Broads Authority’s eight launches are now being serviced and re-fitted by staff  at its dockyard at Thorpe, saving the Authority money.

Historically they have been maintained by boatyards but this operation has now been brought in house as part of the Authority's cost saving measures.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Greater police presence on the Broads

Norfolk and Suffolk police are cracking down on crime and anti-social behaviour on the Broads as they join Broads Authority rangers on patrols.

Six Special Constables were given training by Broads Authority rangers on boat handling, byelaws and water safety on the River Waveney last week. Full time officers will also be trained over the winter so they can carry out high profile on-the-water policing with rangers.

On the final day they dealt with a medical emergency when they came across a local man who was suffering a suspected heart attack on his boat near Oulton Broad Holiday Village. They called the coastguard and paramedics and an ambulance were shortly on the scene.

PC Paul Bassham of BroadsBeat which has its own police patrol boats said: “We’re aiming to be more proactive in preventing crime on the Broads and act as a deterrent while reassuring people of a police presence and offering safety and crime prevention advice. Many criminals are quite brazen and will operate during day. We ask people to look out for each other and report anything suspicious by ringing 101 quoting project Kraken, or in the event of a crime actually taking place, to ring 999.”

He said there had been a recent spate of thefts at Brundall boatyards in which eight boats have been entered and four chart plotters stolen. Owners are advised to check their boats regularly or get someone to do it for them, particularly during the winter.

Suffolk Police have recently launched Boatshield, which is aimed at helping the public to prevent marine crime. Information leaflets are available at Beccles Quay.

Great Yarmouth Yacht Station has now been fitted with CCTV cameras. A person was caught stealing a fishing rod from a cruiser and a light from a Broads Authority boat in its first week.

PC Bassham urged boaters to keep equipment such as fishing rods and valuables out of sight and take serial numbers of outboard engines, Smart phones, I pads, VHF Radios and other marine gadgets.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Secretary of State appointed members wanted for Broads Authority

The Secretary of State is currently appointing two National members for the Broads Authority.

National members have a primary responsibility to ensure that the Authority further its statutory purposes.

A National member should also make sure the Authority fulfils its objectives and does so in a way that best suits the special characteristics of the Broads.

Members are expected to achieve the efficient, effective and accountable governance of the Authority in the best interests of the Broads.

Members provide leadership, scrutiny and direction for the organisation as a whole.

For more information visit http://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/applications/5423f419e4b07e661e64f40e

The deadline for applications is 23 October 2014 at 12 noon.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A chance to get involved in plans for the Waveney Valley

People living in, working in and visiting the Waveney Valley have the opportunity to find out what is going on in the area and get involved in future plans.

The Broads Authority is holding an informal, interactive parish forum on Thursday 25 September at Beccles Public Hall in Smallgate to share information about its work and hear local people’s ideas and views.

The public are invited to drop in between 5pm and 8.30pm to meet Broads Authority Members and staff, including the local rangers.

There will be information and displays on everything from landscape and cultural history, tourism and recreation, wildlife and habitats, to planning matters, local access, navigation, volunteering opportunities and climate change adaptation.

Suffolk Police will be promoting their new Boatshield crime prevention initiative for boat owners and River Waveney Trust and the Waveney Valley Community Archaeology Group will be represented.

There will be a brief presentation at 7.30 pm with a chance to ask questions.

Ideas will be particularly welcome on improving land and waterside access and on local information for an exciting new Broads landscape interpretation project.

The Authority holds four parish forums a year, one in each of its ranger areas.

For more information visit www.broads-authority.gov.uk or telephone 01603 756070.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Broads volunteer nominations needed

A call has gone out for people to nominate volunteers in the Broads for a prestigious National Parks award.

The 2014 UK National Parks Volunteers Awards are a way of saying thank you to invaluable volunteers who look after these precious landscapes as well as encouraging further engagement.

And anyone who does volunteer work in the Broads, part of the National Parks family, can be nominated. They do not have to volunteer for the Broads Authority and National Parks UK is keen to get a range of nominations.

Beth Williams, Broads Authority Volunteer Co-ordinator, said: “Volunteers play such an important role in keeping the unique landscape of the Broads special so we would like to see as many nominations from the area as possible.”

The volunteers being recognised can range from school children to those who have offered decades of service, from the individual who helps mend fences to the organisation helping to reintroduce a native species.

National Parks UK Director Kathryn Cook said: "The scale of volunteerism within the 15-member National Parks family is immense. And it really is inspiring to think of all the ways in which they contribute. It's hard to imagine what our National Parks would be without volunteers."

The awards recognise those deemed to have gone above and beyond the expectations of volunteers in helping to protect, maintain and enhance the environment and heritage of their area.

They will be given in four categories:

•    Individual (over 25 years old)
•    Young person (under 25 years old)
•    Group
•    Volunteer project

Recipients of the group and project awards will receive a £1,000 bursary to help facilitate future volunteering activity. The winning individual and young person will each receive his or her choice of footwear from outdoor specialist and UK National Parks brand partner Merrell.

To nominate a deserving individual, young person, group, or project visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk/aboutus/jobs/2014-volunteer-awards

Nominations will be accepted until 22 September 2014, with shortlisting taking place in early October.

Nominations are encouraged for any active volunteers working within the boundaries of one of the 15 members of the National Parks family. Winners will be announced in November.

To learn more about volunteering within the UK's National Parks, visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk/aboutus/jobs/volunteering

Monday, 1 September 2014

Broads staff carry out boat census

Chief Executive John Packman joined other Broads Authority staff and volunteers to carry out the four-yearly boat census.

The census, held in the week preceding the August bank holiday, involves noting down boats travelling at strategic places around the Broads and marking their direction and boat type.
The results are used to ascertain trends in boat numbers and usage patterns.

Over three nine-hour days, boat numbers at 14 key sites were recorded. With locations differing from lonely riverbanks, like Oulton Dyke, to the much friendlier Horning Ferry Inn, Authority staff and volunteers sat poised with their check lists ready to mark off all manner of vessels as their glided past.

Mark King, Waterways and Recreation Officer, said: “Now the census is over, the real work begins with the collating of the data recorded. Once the numbers have been checked, crunched and verified the results will be used to ascertain numbers of registered vessels compared with hire craft, along with types of vessel currently in use and an overview of who is using the Broads.”

Broads Authority Chief Executive Dr John Packman carrying out the boat census at Great Yarmouth

The information is also used in conjunction with a variety of Broads responsibilities but mainly ranger patrols and the Sediment Management Plan.

The rangers will use the information to ensure that areas of high usage are patrolled regularly. And with regards to the Sediment Management Plan, the census will give officers an insight into the types of vessels being used within the Broads. They can then tailor the dredging programme accordingly if, for example, deep-bottomed craft are seen to be frequenting certain stretches of the river.

Mark added: “A huge thank you to all involved in this very important task.”

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Winnie the Pooh chooses Broads among favourite simple pleasures!

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads features in a special Winnie-the-Pooh book by Visit England after it was chosen as a favourite 'Simple Pleasure' by families.

Visit England asked 2,000 parents to share and celebrate their favourite traditional activities, attractions and days out and boating on the Broads came in at ninth.

An online book featuring the top 25 has now been written to help families organise their adventures around the country.

It forms part of a story around the 25 places explored by Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh and their friends Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo and describes unspoilt villages and the 'mystical waterways' as haven for rare wildlife.

You can read the whole book and find out more here.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Quay assistant involved in river rescue

Dave and holidaymaker Tony Hird who both assisted in the rescue
A Broads Authority quay assistant hit the front page after being involved in a dramatic rescue after fears that a man was going to drown in the river Wensum.

Dave Paddick saw the drama unfold on Thursday opposite Norwich Yacht Station where he works.

He said: “I was talking to somebody up near the bridge and heard something going on in the water.

“I saw a chap on the far side just hauling the gentleman to the side. I ran round and grabbed a lifebuoy on the way.”

Brave passer-by Matthew McKellar jumped into the river to rescue the man after seeing him fall into the water shortly after 6pm while walking along the riverside in his way to a meal out with his fiancee. Meanwhile Tony Hird was on a boat holiday with his family and was able to pull his cruiser alongside the two men in the water.

After the boat picked up the men Dave fetched some blankets to keep them warm, while they waited for the ambulance service to arrive.

He said: “I think he (Mr McKellar) was just walking past and jumped in and grabbed the guy and hauled him to the safety chains.

“I was urging them to get to the safety ladder, until the boat came over.”

The Eastern Daily Press story is here

Monday, 4 August 2014

Exciting collaboration gets people up close and personal with the Broads

Google captured our streets and now a Norwich man is bringing web users up close and personal with duck eye views from more than 100 miles of Broads waterways.

Broadsview is an exciting collaboration between engineer Joe Rutland and the Broads Authority to bring detailed panoramas direct from the waterways into people’s homes, in the same vein as Google’s Streetview

It aims to provide virtual online experience of all 120 miles of navigable waterways within the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads , with the goal of increasing the number of people using this magical waterland.

The project, which is funded by the Broads Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF), will capture the required imagery by pedal power alone. The images are captured using a bespoke panoramic camera, mounted above a pedal drive in the middle of boat.

Joe, along with numerous volunteers, has so far brought 60 miles of the Broads to Broadsview. The project continues to expand week by week

Joe said: “This project will give potential visitors the power to explore and plan their journey before they even leave their house and aims to increase use of the Broads as a source of enjoyment and exercise.

“We are well underway with it, having completed half of all the navigable waterways and are very grateful to the Broads Authority for the SDF funding and practical support. It has been a really enjoyable experience.”

Adrian Clarke, Senior Waterways and Recreation Officer for the Broads Authority, said: “Joe has done a really amazing job of promoting the Broads in this way and helping people appreciate its unique and beautiful qualities. We’re proud to support his work and can’t wait to see the finished project, it will be really useful to anyone interested in this part of the National Park family.”

Check out progress at www.broadsview.co.uk. A 360 degree timelapse video showing a Broadsview image capture trip between Wroxham and Malthouse Broad is available to watch at http://youtu.be/sVLuVn-7rtU

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Busy start to the school holidays

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The period before the holidays was busy with a few incidents involving vessels stuck on Breydon Water and fallen trees.

There have also been two dog rescues. The first was at Great Yarmouth and involved a huge Burmese Mountain Dog which had fallen in .The two Yacht station staff tried in vain to rescue the dog and were on the phone to the coastguard for assistance when they managed to pull it clear of the water.

A five-month old Labrador puppy was reported to have gone missing from a vessel travelling between Horning and Didlers Mill.

A riverside property owner found a very bedraggled puppy on her slipway and took it in to let it rest with her own dog while phoning Broads Control. The owners who were still in the area were reunited with their puppy but almost immediately the puppy fell back in the water and had to be rescued again.

The riverside owner has now lent her dog life jacket to the puppy owners to save any more dramas.

A Super Safety Day took place at Somerleyton on Saturday .There were plenty of vessels about but only eight were slowed down, one blue book was issued and warnings were given for fishing from a moving vessel.

Spring tides produced some strong flows and two vessels had been pinned to bridge fendering while several small oil spills were investigated and dealt with.

There was a grounding on Breydon Water and a call from the MCA to a broken down on the River Waveney at dusk which was dealt with by the local on call ranger.

Whitlingham Country Park started its Whitlingham Wednesday treasure trailwhich attracted 300 young bounty hunters.

Broads Beat have been out patrolling and have been undertaking patrols with rangers and the EA fisheries enforcement staff.

Unfortunately there was a search for a missing person at Oulton Broad which resulted in a deceased man being found. This incident is being investigated by the police.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Rangers v giant hogweed - let battle commence!

Rangers have been winning the battle against one of their arch enemies - giant hogweed.

It might sound like something out of a Harry Potter book but the plant (Lat. Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a very real threat.

Giant hogweed is one of the most problematic invasive non-native species in Britain today. It can grow up to five metres in height, with each plant producing many thousands of seeds a year, and contains a poisonous sap that causes painful blistering and severe skin irritation.

Yet it was exported by the Victorians as an ornamental plant, one of many foreign plants brought into Britain in the 19th century, mainly for ornamental reasons.

Originally from Caucasus it is now widespread throughout the British Isles, especially along riverbanks. By forming dense stands, giant hogweed can displace native plants and reduce wildlife interests.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Royal visits and triathlons

By Pip Noon, Deputy Head of Ranger Services

Special events have dominated the week for rangers – including a visit by the Princess Royal on 8 July when our Waveney Ranger provided on the water support and Operation Dragonfly.

At the weekend the Norwich Triathlon took place at Whitlingham Country Park while rangers helped at South Norfolk Fun Day on Sunday and on the BA promotional stand at the Chet Valley Festival on the previous weekend where badge making for children proved to be particularly popular.

Meanwhile further Ranger Volunteer training is being hosted by the Yare/Whitlingham team to help our fantastic volunteers towards Level 2 skills.

On the water a navigation channel post was noted as missing from Breydon Water and arrangements were made for a temporary buoy to be used as a marker. Our Yare Ranger aboard the Hardley launch removed a large log which was causing a hazard to boaters on the River Chet.

The Wroxham/Ant Ranger team has been undertaking routine site checks and brushcutting this week. Some paths have been cut on Wroxham Island in readiness for Himalayan balsam pulling sessions with volunteers next week.

Between navigation patrols, the Ludham Ranger team has been assisting Environment Officers with the remediation project at Duck Broad by planting reeds in the dredged sediments.

The wind and rain has caused several tree branches to collapse at various locations across the Broads. Emergency tree works were undertaken on Wednesday evening to clear branches on the public highway at Whitlingham. Hire boat customers have coped very well with the difficult conditions.

On 10 July, Breydon Rangers met with representatives from Keep Britain Tidy and Great Yarmouth Borough Council to discuss a foreshore clean-up initiative involving the local community later this year. There is a great accumulation of litter along the edges of Breydon Water.

It’s hoped that a new group may form to care for this area longer-term using the RiverCare model. The litter is a sad detraction from the beautiful purple blush of sea asters which are in bloom across the salt marsh presently.

And lastly three Rangers valiantly fought a sadly losing battle in the BA versus Broadland District Council six-aside football tournament last Friday.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Broads Authority joins ambulance and coastguard agencies in Operation Dragonfly major incident exercise

Staff and volunteers test major incident readiness during Operation Dragonfly
Last weekend around 60 St John Ambulance, HM Coastguard and Broads Authority staff, volunteers and observers successfully tested their preparedness for a major incident on the Broads and coast during a complex exercise.

HM Coastguard's Lowestoft, Gorleston and Winterton teams and St John Ambulance's Lowestoft unit joined the Broads Authority on Saturday 5 July for Operation Dragonfly at Goodchild Marine in Burgh Castle.

The carefully planned scenario, which lasted the entire morning, involved two boats which had collided after the captain of the larger one, a pleasure craft, had suffered a stroke.

With many role-play casualties on board the boats, on land and in the water, the three organisations had the complex task of assessing the incident, prioritising injuries and extracting all casualties from the area.

As with all exercises of this type, casualties were given realistic injuries by an experienced make-up artist and were briefed on how to act when the rescue teams arrived, ranging from being very subdued to extremely vocal and distressed.

One casualty was a wheelchair user on the top deck of the larger craft and several others were immobilised by major fractures and broken limbs, needing stretcher evacuation.

After the teams started leading and stretchering the injured away, the scenario planners had included some extra surprises including a panic attack from one casualty as she had to be taken to dry land on another boat, and an angina attack from a second woman as she arrived on land where ambulances were waiting.

The inclusion of water and boats in the exercise added another element of difficulty, as did a sudden and very violent downpour later in the morning.
Pip Noon, Deputy Head of Ranger Services at the Broads Authority, said: "This has been a brilliant opportunity for the three agencies to work together with multiple role-played casualties in a waterside setting.

"The exercise has taught all three groups how to work closely and communicate effectively in these situations. Training needs to be ongoing for staff and volunteers and I particularly appreciate the input of our volunteers and commitment to taking part today. This is certainly an exercise we would like to repeat."

Peter Byatt, HM Coastguard Station Officer at Lowestoft, added: "This was an excellent opportunity to be able to work alongside other emergency services organisations and practise our skills.

"To be put in a position where we had to assess multiple casualties and ensure that the appropriate resources were put in place to treat them was invaluable. It was a very well organised exercise which we hope to repeat on a yearly basis."

Tony Curd, St John Ambulance's District Manager with responsibility for Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, said: "While we all hope never to have to deal with situations of such complexity and severity, it is vital that we and our partner agencies ensure that our volunteers are operating at the highest levels of proficiency to bring incidents of this sort to a successful conclusion.

"The meticulous planning that went into the exercise from all three organisations has meant that we have had a superb scenario to deal with today, with many unexpected twists, and I'm pleased that our first aiders showed that they truly possess the skills to be the difference between life and death. We're very much looking forward to collaborating with HM Coastguard and The Broads Authority on similar exercises in future."

All three organisations gave their thanks to the volunteers, staff and observers who attended the exercise, as well as Goodchild Marine for use of their facilities.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Swan rescues and safer moorings

By Pip Noon, Deputy Head of Ranger Services

A Waveney Ranger rescued a swan with a fishing hook in its mouth after spotting it while on patrol at Oulton Broad . He was able to capture the bird before taking out the hook and releasing it again.

Rangers across the area have been strimming and mowing mooring sites and pathways to ensure safe access for members of the public.

And the crew aboard the Spirit of Breydon helped two vessels which had gone aground on Breydon Water,  offering re-assurance to the people on board. Breydon Ranger Steve Williams was interviewed by BBC Radio Norfolk about safe crossing of Breydon Water on Friday 4 July.

Rangers have also been carrying out radar speed checks on the lower Yare, where they helped a boat off the mud at Polkey’s Mill, and undertaking joint patrols with Broadsbeat and EA fisheries officers at Wroxham and Norwich.

A number of anglers have received contravention notices for failing to produce a valid rod licence. Each offence carries a potential fine if convicted of £2500. The annual rod licence, in comparison, costs only £27.

On Tuesday 1 July, the Hardley launch was deployed to escort a large BA workboat ‘Shoveler’ from Reedham onto the Chet and rangers marshalled powerboat racing on Oulton Broad, Thursday 2 July during the afternoon and evening. Rangers also provided launch support for planning officer investigations on 2 July.

 Northern rivers rangers arranged for the Wroxham boat shed to be emptied ahead of a construction project. The building has developed structural issues due to subsidence. Alternative arrangements to house the patrol launch ML Yare have been made.

On Saturday 28 June, a training session on power tools and equipment use was run by the Yare/Whitlingham Ranger for Ranger volunteers at Whitlingham Country Park. This training counts towards Level 2 in the 3-tier training scheme for Ranger volunteers. Thirteen volunteers attended the day.

One of the old patrol launches which remains for sale by sealed bids was taken from dry moorings at Thorpe Dockyard to Potter Heigham on Thursday 3 July.


Between patrols and maintenance duties, Rangers have been distributing more copies of the free Broadcaster publication to various outlets.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Successful Annual Public Meeting draws dozens

Dozens of people interested in the work of the Broads Authority gathered for an interactive annual public meeting on Saturday 28 June to find out information, ask questions and air views.

The meeting, on the Authority’s silver anniversary, was the second APM at the Dockyard in Thorpe. Staff and members were on hand with stands and displays to talk about their work from conservation, practical work and ranger services to tourism and recreation, education, planning matters and adapting to climate change.

A presentation by Chief Executive Dr John Packman talked about the Authority's work over the past 25 years to improve and protect the Broads - the results of which include better water quality, free moorings and the return of rare wildlife - as well as its future priorities and achievements over the past year.

Questions were asked about mooring provision, the make up of the committee structure and heritage boat tolls.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Half way through the year...

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Several incidents have occurred over the last week.


Rangers assisted a school visit of children from London. Activities included bug hunting ,countryside activities, and information regarding an eel set.

The Breydon crew also helped put out a fire on the bank near the pump house on the south side of Breydon. They supported the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service by attending by river with water packs as vehicle access to the site was not possible.


The Breydon launch was also called to a vessel that had broken down and was tied to a post. The vessel had actually run aground and was later towed off by the hire craft towboat service.

A hire vessel trying to moor collided with the moored Reedham Ferry resulting in a crew member of the hire boat sustaining a broken arm. Three day boats were set adrift in Wroxham.

A joint patrol took place with the EA fisheries enforcement officer on our vessel on the Upper Thurne. This was also joined by Broads Beat Police on their new boat.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Broads Authority Chief Executive chairs European sediment conference

Broads Authority Chief Executive Dr John Packman chaired a European conference to finalise the landmark Prisma project.

Prisma - Promoting Integrated Sediment Management - brought together the Broads Authority and three other European partners to improve dredging techniques, find innovative ways of treating dredged sediment and improve and promote its reuse.

It has resulted in awards for the Broads Authority's innovative work to use dredged sediment to restore lost reedbeds at Duck Broad and Salhouse Spit, benefiting multiple users.
Dr John Packman (far left) chairs the Prisma conference with Trudi Wakelin, Director of Operations sitting left

The Authority received 800,000 Euros from the Interreg 2 Seas Programme to work with waterway infrastructure manager Waterwegen en Zeekanaal in Belgium, the Dutch water board Hoogheemraadschap voor Schieland en de Krimpenerwaard and the French research association Armines.

The final conference took place on Wednesday 18 June in Antwerp, Belgium. 

For more information on the project visit the Prisma page on the Broads Authority website.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Rivers bustling but few incidents - Rangers update

By Adrian Vernon - Head of Ranger Services

While the waterways were busy with holidaymakers there were relatively few incidents to deal with.

Training for new and existing staff has continued this week. Two new staff were signed off following a rigorous training day involving a diverse range of ranger activities.

Staff were also being retrained to keep their oil spill response qualification current.

The night of the England football match was quiet with people mooring up earlier to get a good seat in the pubs.

On Saturday a Super Safety Day was held at two locations on the River Bure. Of the 75 boats that went past only five needed to be stopped. One man said he was very impressed by the fact that he had been alerted to the need for a toll twice that day since buying his new boat.

An investigation has started regarding speeding in the evenings between Acle Bridge and Thurne Mouth. Two jet ski skippers were stopped for navigating on Breydon Water while several boat skippers were given warnings for overstaying on moorings.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Owl you need is love!

Erica Murray with two baby barn owls found in one of the nesting boxes
Baby barn owls are getting all the love they need to thrive thanks to a scheme to protect this special species.

The Broads Barn Owl Project aims to conserve and increase local barn owl and kestrel numbers in the area.

The Broads Authority, in partnership with the Hawk & Owl Trust has provided fifty barn owl and kestrel nest boxes to landowners with suitable rough grassland areas.

And the project has recently benefited from the Love the Broads visitor giving scheme, which has funded the purchase of seventeen more barn owl nesting boxes.

BA Ecologist Erica Murray who went out this week to check the boxes found them all full as breeding booms.

The project is important because many traditional barn owl roosting and nesting sites in farm buildings and old trees have been lost over the years due to barn conversions and tree disease.

This combined with a loss of prey rich rough grassland hunting habitat has resulted in a decline in barn owl numbers.

The project also aims to provide landowners with advice on how to manage their grassland to support healthy numbers of voles and mice, the favourite prey of barn owl and kestrel.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Rangers week sees Breydon rescues and trial of new radar guns


By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The rangers are trialling a radar gun for the next two weeks, which was featured the EDP earlier in the year.

On Saturday last week the Breydon crew rescued to a large hire cruiser that was blocking the river just below the Bure bridges. The hire crew said the steering was faulty and the tide was running hard.

The Breydon crew took the vessel under tow and eventually took them to Berney Arms moorings for the vessel to be checked out.

On the Sunday the Breydon launch stopped a cruiser towing two vessels one of which looked unseaworthy and was in danger of turning over and sinking. The people towing the vessel were unclear about the ownership and the vessel was treated as abandoned and was secured at Reedham quay.

And two vessels became stuck on the mud on the Breydon mud on Sunday evening, one was towed off immediately and the other was assisted off early the next morning by the Breydon towing service.
It was later taken to our dockyard for safe keeping until the owner can be traced.

One hire boat struck a private moored and unattended vessel and left without stopping in the Horning area. When a neighbour shouted for the crew to stop they pointed what later turned out to be a plastic water pistol. Police had already been called and dealt with the incident.

The rangers have been busy taking statements regarding incidents of speeding mainly in the lower and middle Bure area.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Historic Broads lock back in action

The new system at Mutford Lock is tested
Mutford Lock, which enables thousands of boats to pass between the Broads and the North Sea each year, is operating again after the replacement of control systems which were irreparably damaged by the December floods.

The Broads Authority has overseen £80,000 worth of repairs to the Victorian lock which have been funded from emergency flood funds allocated to the National Parks by Defra.

A new hydraulic and electrical system which will be less vulnerable to future flooding has been specially designed and installed by local contractor LEC Marine (Klyne) Ltd, to suit the layout and appearance of the lock.

The tidal surge damaged the hydraulic control and lock gate winding mechanisms and increased the build-up of sediment and debris behind the gates.

While components were being manufactured divers and mechanical contractors were brought in to clear the lock gates, cills and sluices of debris, remove and replace a cable duct and repair winding mechanisms.

Tom Hunter, Broads Authority engineer, said: “The time taken to fabricate and install a well-designed system to withstand future flooding was essential to provide good long term value and minimise future costs and down time.

“The old system has been troublesome for several years. Some of the parts were obsolete and not designed for easy maintenance.

“The maintenance of this important structure is expensive and we were extremely pleased that the bid to Defra for funding this damage by the flood was successful and met the full cost of the repair.”

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, said: “I am delighted that this important gateway to the Broads is fully operational again for the thousands of boats which go through it every year.

“The repair and upkeep of the lock is not only good news for boat users but is also a boost for the local businesses which benefit from their passage.

“The Broads Authority appreciates the patience of boaters awaiting the repairs and I particularly want to thank the staff at Oulton Broad Yacht Station and Holman Marine who have operated the lock manually while the system has been out of action.”

When allocating the money from the flood fund Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “The Broads are the jewel in the crown of our precious natural environment – this investment will ensure they remain so. Given each pound spent by National Parks on recreation provides £4 of wider benefit, it is essential to get our Parks back to the highest standards ahead of the busy tourism period.”

Boaters wishing to use the lock should book in advance with Oulton Broad Yacht Station on 01502 574946 or VHF channel 73.

Broads Authority reaction to Queen's speech

By John Packman, Chief Executive

In the Queen’s Speech today the Government announced plans to introduce a Governance of National Parks and the Broads Bill. This would allow direct elections to be held for key positions in England's ten National Park Authorities and the Broads Authority.

The Government has been reviewing the governance of national park authorities since 2010 and the issue of direct elections has been debated as part of that. In seems unlikely that any trial elections would take place for at least another three years, assuming all the necessary legislation has gone through. The New Forest and Peak District have been identified for a potential trial of such elections and our understanding is that it would be only after the performance and cost of those elections had been evaluated that other national parks, including the Broads, would be considered

There are already various measures in place already to provide local accountability in our current board structure including members appointed by the two district councils and six district councils and various ways in which we engage the public, through our parish forums, online comment forms and social media as well as public meetings.

Even so the Broads Authority has supported the principle of direct elections when it was consulted by the Government. One of the questions that was raised was the nature of the electorate because, if the boundary of the Broads Executive Area was used, then less than 6,000 people would be eligible to vote and yet there are many more who live in and around the Broads who take a close interest in the work of the Authority and might feel they deserved to take part in any election.

We look forward to finding out more detail as to what the Government intends in due course.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Ranger update: a busy half term

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The Broads waterways were bustling over the half-term week but thankfully there were relatively few incidents.

Our two new seasonal rangers Polly and Gavin continued their training on Breydon Water dealing with scenarios that were clearly convincing to one member of the public who called police with concerns over the Breydon crew.

Australian Polly said during training that Great Yarmouth's Vauxhall Bridge looked like a mini Sydney Harbour Bridge. It must be the first time the two have been mentioned in the same breath!

Back to real incidents and only two boats had to be rescued after getting stuck on the mud on Breydon this week.

Norwich Yacht Station was flooded out during the heavy rain early in the week but the Quay Assistants really worked hard to clean up the flooding and get it back open to the public again.

On a less positive note two men were interviewed and given public order fixed penalty notices for threatening a ranger and several illegal moorers have been moved on from 24 hour moorings.

Adjacent waters toll surveys by rangers continue throughout the system.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Check, clean, dry to stop the alien invaders

The killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus)
By Andrea Kelly, Senior Ecologist

Check, clean, dry is the message as the Broads Authority continues to raise awareness of alien invaders.

The Authority is involved in mapping the distribution of the killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) and the zebra mussel as well as other non-native species.

The highest densities of killer shrimp and zebra mussels are on the eastern shore of Barton Broad and zebra mussels can also be found throughout the Bure, Ant, Thurne and Yare.

It is likely that the water intake from Belaugh to the Trinity Broads will also spread the shrimp.

It is critical to avoid the spread to other waterways by taking the simple steps of check, clean, dry – checking your boat and equipment for invaders before leaving a waterway, cleaning everything and making sure it is all dry. A leaflet is available with further information.

For more details on how we have raised awareness of non-native species please see the Broads Authority website.

Any sightings of non-native species can be emailed to alert_nonnative@ceh.ac.uk

Sunday, 25 May 2014

'Martin Broom' launch leads Authority's eco-friendly fleet

Cleaning the 'Martin Broom'
By Dan Hoare, Environment and Design Supervisor

Two Broads Authority Ranger launches now have super clean hulls, thanks to an innovative coating that protects the boat, and the environment.

Traditional and commonly used antifoulant paints applied to boat hulls contain copper, zinc and other pesticidal chemicals. These chemicals prevent growth of algae on submerged boat surfaces, but in the Broads, the likely level of this natural growth is relatively low compared to marine situations.

To help protect against contamination of the sensitive Broads freshwater ecosystem, several different types of hull coating have been developed that don’t rely on toxic chemicals.

Our newest launch the 'Martin Broom' has a silicon based hull coating, that feels slippery to the touch, and prevents any mussels, or dense growths of algae attaching underwater. It also helps the vessel glide through the water and keep fuel consumption down.

All that is needed for annual maintenance is a quick spray with a pressure washer, or wipe with a wet rag. Removing the thin layer of silt and slime is a lot less work and expense than reapplying another coat of normal antifoul paint that can leave a legacy of chemicals in the waterways.

Our other launch with a silicon-coated hull has been in the water for four seasons near Breydon Water, with only minor touch ups where impacts have damaged the silicon surface.

The initial outlay is certainly worth four years of minimal maintenance costs.  The remainder of the Authority’s vessels are coated with an annually applied non-toxic antifoul paint, which relies on the action of hydrogen peroxide to deter plant and animal growth on the hull. When the peroxide breaks down underwater, all that remains is water and oxygen!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Machine management for the Broads

The new Softrak MkII
By Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment

A new machine to help manage the Broads is being put through its paces before starting work in the summer.

The Broads Authority received its brand new Softrak MkII wetland harvester this week.

Operatives will be trained to use it while it undergoes a period of testing before cutting various fenland sites in August.

In addition the weed cutter Megan was lifted into the river on Tuesday following her winter refit.

Megan will start work at Somerton and cut more than 50 miles of weed from the channel during the cutting season.
Megan after her winter refit

Friday, 16 May 2014

Broads Authority hosts VIP planner

Kath Ranson (second from left) with Cally Smith (left),
Andrea Long and Peter Warner
The Broads Authority hosted a visit from the National President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and talked to her about the challenges of managing planning in the Broads.

Authority officers hosted the visit from Kath Ranson during the RTPI’s centenary year. It was arranged by Peter Warner, a Broads Authority member and immediate past Chair of the East of England branch of the RTPI.

Director of Planning and Resources Andrea Long said: “Kath works for Pembrokeshire County Council but also spent several years at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and therefore was well versed in the challenges members of the National Parks family all face when it comes to planning matters.”

Ms Ranson visited the Authority’s Yare House office on Thursday (15 May) morning for a presentation about the Greater Norwich Development Partnership from Broadland District Council Head of Planning Phil Courtier and a presentation about the challenges of planning in the Broads by Ms Long and Broads Authority Head of Planning Cally Smith.

She then visited Norwich Yacht Station and was taken from there through the city by boat to Whitlingham Country Park.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Broads Authority officers call for urgent research over Catfield Fen

A report to tomorrow’s Broads Authority meeting is calling for urgent research to better understand the challenges of the Broadland fens following concerns regarding water abstraction licences at Catfield.

The Authority prides itself in taking decisions based on evidence and officers do not have enough evidence for a conclusive link between water abstraction for crops and the present condition of Catfield Fen, or if there is a link, whether it is significant.

The Environment Agency is the body responsible for making decisions on abstraction licences and officers have worked hard, and commissioned independent research, to assist the agency in making an informed decision. This research has led the Authority to question the modelling system for evaluating the hydrology of the Broads given its unique and complex challenges.

But more work needs to be carried out to ensure a full, sound understanding of the hydrology and ecology of the fens using a range of expertise and officers are urging action to establish a partnership research programme.

This would not only provide more information on the best sustainable management of specific sites like Catfield Fen but for other fen areas which may be subject to similar pressures and it will inform areas of work like climate change adaptation.

Full details of the committee report can be found on the Broads Authority website.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Broads Authority staff lay treasure during 25km sponsored journey to mark 25 years

Staff at the Broads Authority will be running, walking or cycling 25km on Saturday to celebrate the organisation’s 25th anniversary and raise money for projects to protect and nurture Britain’s magical waterland.

And in addition to dozens of staff journeying from Whitlingham Visitor Centre along the Wherryman’s Way to Loddon there will be a number of Broads souvenirs which will be laid in various geocache sites along the route for people to find.

Would be treasure hunters can download the co-ordinates and clues from www.geocaching.com under the name friedagaric.

The journey for staff will end with a well-earned barbecue washed down with Woodforde’s Flagondry – an ale especially brewed to mark the Authority’s silver anniversary.

All sponsorship raised by the effort will go to the Love the Broads charity, which administers projects to benefit conservation, environment and tourism facilities within the Broads and its immediate surroundings.

Broads Authority Chief Executive Dr John Packman, who will be among the cyclists, said: “I speak on behalf of all staff and volunteers when I say how proud we are to be part of an organisation that has made such strides in managing and looking after this precious part of the national park family.

“Twenty-five years is a significant milestone and it is important that we celebrate the Authority and all its achievements during that time. It is particularly fitting that we are making the journey along the Wherryman’s Way as helping to establish this route is one of those achievements. “My thanks go to all our staff and volunteers for making everything we have done possible.”

Walkers and runners will be setting off from Whitlingham at 8.30am on Saturday and cyclists will be following at 12pm. Sponsorship can be made at www.justgiving.com/broads-authority

25 of the Broads Authority’s biggest achievements over the last 25 years

1 Dramatic improvements in water quality – thriving water plants and clear water are the best in half a century

2 Return of rare wildlife – bittern, marsh harriers, otters, cranes, buzzard

3 Barton Broad restored and a new boardwalk built providing access for disabled visitors

4 Britain’s first passenger solar boat ‘Ra’ launched – now operating on Whitlingham Broad

5 Canoe and bike hire networks started

6 Raised standards of eating establishments through the Eating Out Guide

7 Improved sustainable practices through Green Tourism Business scheme

8 Revived the reed and sedge cutting industry in the Broads

9 Trained millwrights to keep heritage skills alive

10 Developed Whitlingham Country Park for visitors

11 Improved access to the Broads for people with disabilities – footpaths and wheelchair accessible fishing platforms.

12 Helped develop the long distance footpath, the Wherryman’s Way, with partners.

13 Works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, inspiring them about the Broads and wild spaces.

14 Provided more than 60 free 24 hour moorings, all with safety features

15 Extended electric charging points across the Broads to encourage eco-friendly boating

16 Took the dredging operation in-house—achieving 25% more dredging for less money

17 Built a new dockyard facility as the hub of its maintenance work

18 Restored two historic reed beds by reusing dredged sediment.

19 Works with the Environment Agency on flood defence

20 Improved safety on the Broads

21 Took over the management of Breydon Water from Gt Yarmouth Port Authority

22 Invested in high speed, heavy duty launch for Breydon Water with year round patrols

23 Established three visitor hubs each with their own boat trip

24 Took over the management and refurbished Norwich and Gt Yarmouth Yacht Stations

25 New branding has changed the image of the Broads as Britain’s magical waterland, a nature lover’s paradise

Saturday, 10 May 2014

First few May days....

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The Bank Holiday weekend was fairly quiet with a total of nine warning given mainly for speeding.

A ranger assisted on the Broads Authority stand at the Horning Boat Show and three volunteers and the ranger on launch were nearby at the moorings and on the river. The event was well attended and agreed by all to have been a success.

On Monday a speeder who had been complained about in the Northern Broads was caught up with and blue booked.

A vessel that has stayed at the Norwich Yacht Station twice without paying was stopped and the police have become involved.

A great deal of rubbish and debris is recovered by the Rangers in the normal course of their work, but the more unusual finds this week were five 1 metre long logs which were recovered from the Chet.

A joint patrol has been undertaken with Broads Beat Police in the Wroxham area.

On Wednesday our Chief Executive John Packman continued his mission to go out with all staff and he became part of the Breydon crew.

He helmed the vessel all day and the patrol was involved in an escort in the morning and the recovery of a broken down speedboat in the afternoon. The weather was windy with gusts nearing 30 mph and heavy showers so the speedboat crew were very pleased to see the Breydon Patrol.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Broads Authority beats dredging target

By Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment

Navigation Committee members have welcomed the news that the Broads Authority has exceeded its annual dredging target by more than 13%

At the committee meeting last Thursday I updated on the progress of the Construction, Maintenance and Environment Section work programme, including the fact that 56,507m3 of sediment had been removed from the rivers and broads during 2013/14 against a target of 50,000m3.

This is great news for boat users and the Authority and was largely thanks to progress made at Duck Island and helped by the milder winter. Significant progress has also been made at Heigham Sound, Upton Dyke, the Chet and the hump in Breydon Water.

The committee also welcomed news of tree and scrub clearance on the Upper Bure and Upper Ant for navigation and land management purposes.

More good news was that the new 24 hour moorings at Hardley Cross has been completed and opened in time for the season boasting 90m of new mooring space and 25 new mooring posts.

Mud pumping at Heigham Sound went well with more than 13,000m3 and dredging at Upton Dyke has been completed, with boats being allowed back into the dyke. The arisings have been put into a shallow set back to de-water. Once dried, the area will be restored to a grassed area with a small wetland section at the basin end, to encourage biodiversity.

The dredging in the River Chet, from Pye’s Mill to the 24hr mooring has been completed, including Loddon basin. Some of this sediment is being used as part of the European partnership project (PRISMA) trial where sediment is mixed with varying amounts of cement and lime to see what level is needed to bring the material up to the required sheer strength. This will help with future flood defence works and has the potential of providing a future re-use of dredged material.

Breydon Water had some maintenance spot dredging undertaken, with 500m3 removed near the downstream span, adjacent to the true right bank. This small lump was causing a shallow spot and was picked up by the Rangers on a routine patrol. A damaged navigation channel marker post has also been replaced.

Monday, 28 April 2014

A busy but peaceful Easter

Although the Easter holidays were a busy time for the rangers, there have been very few incidents.

A total of five hire boats ran aground in the Breydon area. One was a breakdown in bad weather and the lifeboat was called to evacuate the crew.

Two people fell in at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station but were quickly recovered from the water.

After a call to youths throwing stones and damaging a  private boat at Great Yarmouth BA staff detained two juveniles who were dealt with by the police.

Eighteen blue book written warnings have been issued by rangers for navigation offences. Despite these, there has been a noticeable decline in speeding of day boats fitted with new GPS speed indicators in Wroxham.

Several new members of staff have been signed off as fully trained and have already been busy dealing with the myriad of tasks that rangers deal with everyday.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Authority's £82,000 funding bid success

By John Packman, Chief Executive

I am delighted to announce that the Authority has been successful in its bid for £82,000 from Defra for repairs following the December floods.

The full bid was awarded, £80,000 of which will fund the replacement of the electrical and hydraulic system at Mutford Lock, which was irreparably damaged during the tidal surge, and £2,000 will pay for various repairs at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station.

The Authority had already committed the money for the necessary work but, as the costs will now be covered in full by the additional National Park funding from Defra, £80,000 can go back into the Mutford Lock reserve account and £2,000 will fund improved flood resilience at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station.

As part of the Defra announcement Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “The Broads are the jewel in the crown of our precious natural environment – this investment will ensure they remain so. Given each pound spent by National Parks on recreation provides £4 of wider benefit, it is essential to get our Parks back to the highest standards ahead of the busy tourism period.”

I can also report on the progress at Mutford Lock, which facilitates more than 1,000 boat passages a year. It is currently operating on a limited, manual basis but full repairs are expected to be completed by the end of May. Full details of progress so far are that:

  • The hydraulic and electric components and steel housing units are being fabricated offsite and are close to completion. Once complete these will be assembled ready for on-site installation
  • The old hydraulic system has been disconnected
  • With the assistance of divers most of the duct and cabling crossing the lock chamber has been removed and a new duct is being fabricated. The remaining section of duct is in the trench and will be removed and the trench cleared when the new duct is ready to be installed.
  • The divers will return to clear the duct trench and will also clear a very significant built up of mussels from the lock gates close by.
  • Two of the gate winding mechanisms (which have remained stiff since the surge) will be stripped, checked and repaired/greased as necessary.
  • The main aspect of the new control system installation will take place next month (May) with completion before the end of the May.

We will keep you updated of any more progress as it happens.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Super safety marks the rangers' week

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The rangers ran a very successful Super Safety Day at St Benet’s Abbey attended by Chief Executive John Packman.

The event gave us all a chance to chat to private owners and holiday makers regarding a variety of Broads related subjects.

While the vast majority of those we visited were abiding by all the byelaws, we did discover eight toll offences, stopped two speeding vessels and carried out three hazardous boat inspections were carried out.

A crew was also spoken to regarding fishing out of season and another crew were reminded of the byelaw regarding the playing of a very loud radio.

On a more unusual note a charity rower in an inflatable boat was escorted across Breydon Water by the Breydon Crew.

And in court a speeding helmsman on the River Bure was found guilty, receiving fines and costs totalling £340.

The week continued with a rowdy stag party at Horning and some boat thefts from the Northern Broads. Vessels were also let go at Potter Heigham and Horsey. A day boat was quickly recovered but two other vessels are still missing.

One hire vessel crew were helped twice in one day. They managed to run aground on the River Bure and then later on Barton Broad.

Rangers were also kept busy installing more signs and buoys on the island on Barton Broad.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Food and Flagondry launch Broads Authority silver anniversary

A must have guide for any Broads visitor wanting a fine dining experience or simply fish and chips was launched  today along with a speciality beer to celebrate the 25th birthday of the Broads Authority.

Eating Out in the Broads, sponsored by the Broads’ largest operator, Richardson’s Boating Holidays of Stalham, was unveiled at the Fur and Feather pub at Woodbastwick, home of Woodforde's brewery which brewed the birthday beer Flagondry.

The Eating Out guide features traditional pubs, speciality seafood restaurants and cosy riverside tea rooms which all serve local ingredients and have been quality checked by independent assessors and awarded either gold, silver or bronze. The guide indicates the price range and whether there is a mooring nearby.

The brochure also includes other places to eat which have not been assessed as well as bike and canoe hire outlets, boat trips, visitor centres, yacht stations and a very handy map.

Greg Munford, Chief Executive of Richardsons, said: “The experience every Richardson’s customer has on holiday is heavily dependent, not only on ourselves, but on the quality and range of other attractions and importantly restaurants and eateries.

“When the opportunity arose to sponsor the Eating Out guide we jumped at it! This is a great publication produced by the Broads Authority which helps anyone holidaying or visiting the Broads to choose where to go when they fancy a meal on shore or even a takeaway fish and chips!  We hope the wide distribution of this guide will promote the establishments included and reward those who have committed to the grading. We want people to enjoy the Broads by experiencing the magic that both the Broads and its tourism businesses have to offer.”

The Fur and Feather Inn at Woodbastwick is one of the eateries featuring in the guide and offers the new Woodforde’s beer, Flagondry - brewed exclusively to celebrate the Broads Authority’s 25th anniversary.

Flagondry, which is inspired by the dragonflies that are commonly seen in the Broads, is a golden, zesty ale using Norfolk’s finest ingredients including Maris Otter malt
and honey.

Woodforde’s managing director, Rupert Farquharson said: “Our brewery is close to Salhouse, considered the heart of the Norfolk Broads, so we are delighted to brew this beer to mark a special occasion.

“The pubs around the Broads play a key role in our region’s tourism industry and we hope visitors to this beautiful part of the world will enjoy a refreshing pint of Flagondry - a true taste of Norfolk.”

Friday, 4 April 2014

A busy start to the season

It has been a busy week for us, and these are just a few of the things we have been up to on the Broads.

The weekend started with a call saying that some ponies had escaped and were loose on the A 1062 at Ludham. The team were called out and the ponies were safely rounded up without any incident.

At Gt Yarmouth Yacht Station three life rings were vandalised and at Norwich Yacht Station a life ring was thrown on the roof of the building.

A day boat was towed from St Benet’s moorings back to Wroxham after the steering became defective, and a small diesel spill was dealt with in Horning.

The seasonal staff returned this week and there have been three days of intensive updating and training. The training included hazardous boat inspections, Whitlingham byelaws and risk assessments. Everyone is very much looking forward to the summer season.

Enquiries are underway following a motor vessel moored on a demasting mooring on the River Ant which caused problems for a yacht crew.

And finally, this Saturday 5 April starting at 10am we will be holding a Super Safety Day at St Benet’s Abbey moorings.

The rangers are to be joined by Steve Birtles our Head of Safety Management and we will be undertaking checks for speed, tolls offences and will be conducting hazardous boat checks.

It gives us a good chance to talk to visitors and locals alike and we look forward to meeting you and hearing your comments and questions. John Packman, the Chief Executive of the Broads Authority will also be in attendance.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Broads Control update - successful meeting of Breydon users

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The Breydon rangers hosted the Breydon User Group meeting in Great Yarmouth. The meeting was well attended by representatives of hire boat companies and private boaters as well as Broadsbeat, Natural England, the RSPB, local wildfowlers and a local boatyard.

The Broads wide survey for our planning department continued, as did deliveries of the 2014 edition of the Broads Authority's free newspaper “Broadcaster” by river and road.

Our crane barge was escorted back to its moorings after completing dredging and post work on Breydon Water.

A large tree was found in the river near Norwich yacht station. It was towed to the dockyard at Thorpe St Andrew where it was craned out.

The weekend patrols were quite busy with a few speeding boats (one of which was given a blue book warning) and one or two cases of bad behaviour. Patrols also checked moorings for over-stayers and litter.

A helmsman appeared in court on Wednesday  for speeding on the River Yare. He pleaded guilty and received a £200 fine and £95 costs.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Broads Control update - Moorings checks, surveys and pollution response

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The weekend rangers were called to an unattended sinking vessel at Wroxham and managed to stop the leak in the exhaust system that was causing the problem.

Moorings throughout the Broads were checked for over-stayers and defects.

The rangers have been asked by our planning department to conduct a Broads-wide planning survey ideally before Easter. This is a big task which the rangers, assisted by volunteers, have started this week.

The free Broads Authority newspaper Broadcaster has arrived and the rangers are busy delivering many bundles of them to boatyards and other outlets ready for the start of the summer season.

A very large tree stump was discovered in the river at Horning. The local rangers, who have borrowed a workboat from our colleagues, have dealt with this and other problems in the area.

About sixteen staff attended a certified oil spill course as part of our requirement to meet our statutory obligations under the Oil Pollution Preparedness Response Regulations.

A couple of rangers attended the Broads Authority parish forum at Reedham on Wednesday evening. They were on hand to answer a number of questions from the public.

Several bye-law offences are being investigated by rangers this week.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Broads Control update - good weather means rangers are extra busy

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

On Saturday a missing person was reported to the police and several rangers moved to an area of the Yare to assist in the search. The person was found safe and well and the search was called off.

On Saturday night a hire cruiser was reported navigating at about midnight in the Surlingham Ferry area. The six man crew was located the next day and the helmsman was given a written warning.

Sunday was busy with a sunken hire boat on the Lower Yare. Apparently the vessel had hit a mud shelf and eventually keeled over, then took on water via a redundant vent. The people had been safely taken off the previous evening when the boat was still upright. The Spirit of Breydon assisted with the recovery operation and the Authority’s RIB also attended. The facts of the case are still being investigated but the area has been inspected and marked. The vessel seemed to have been navigating very close to the banks which is not advisable anywhere in the Broads.

A rowing coaching vessel broke down near Whitlingham and was towed back to Norwich.

Two volunteers assisted a canoeist who had lost his mobile phone in the water. It was finally retrieved much to the delight of the man who wrote a nice email praising the volunteers.

Two complaints were received about a private vessel on the Yare whose three occupants were apparently swearing and being offensive to other river users. Broadsbeat were informed and are dealing with this.

The week has been quiet so far and training and essential tree work involving potentially hazardous trees have been the main duties carried out.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Broads Control update - Rangers join police for Broads exercise

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services  

The rangers carried out a joint day/night exercise with Norfolk Police in the Wroxham area on Saturday evening. A number of rangers and officers were involved and a BA launch, RIB and the new police patrol vessel were used together for the first time. The Broadsbeat team practised and refined their operating procedures under a number of scenarios.

The weekend rangers were on hand for the very well attended Head of the River rowing race near Norwich which passed without incident on Saturday.

Complaints have been lodged regarding litter in the city and on the River Yare and the team continue with the never-ending task of clearing land-based litter that has ended up in the river. We estimate that we have cleared 60 bags of litter and many larger items from the area this winter. We will soon be undertaking a bigger sweep in the area before the start of the season. 

A broken down vessel was assisted by a volunteer ranger in the Potter Heigham area. The volunteer who was helming a launch towed the vessel back to its mooring.

A small section of the viaduct moorings in Wroxham has been closed due to the failure of the piling. Tree work has continued at Whitlingham.



Thursday, 27 February 2014

Broads Control update - a calmer week on the broads

By Lucy Burchnall, Deputy Head of Ranger Services

Rangers came across a drifting work platform while patrolling in the South Walsham area.  The platform was secured while investigations into where it had come from were made.

A site survey to inspect the banks of the River Chet was undertaken following the recent dredging that has been undertaken there.

A fallen tree was reported just upstream of the Meadside Hotel.  The tree was cleared by the Rangers over the next two days with help from our volunteers.

The car park at Barton Boardwalk has been given a bit of a spring clean by the team in preparation for the start of the season.  Further work to manage the hedge around the car park is planned over the next month.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

High winds keep rangers busy

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Friday night saw very strong winds which resulted in a number of calls on Saturday morning. Trees were down in Wroxham, Ludham, Sutton Staithe moorings, Whitlingham and Norwich. The woodland walk at Whitlingham was closed and the trees inspected. The weekend team got to work with chainsaws and bow saws and, in some cases with the help of the tree owners, obstructions were cleared.

Several vessels were found drifting  and one has been pumped out.

On Sunday tree work continued and patrols plus training resumed. 

On Monday night training continued on Breydon and this time we were joined by two members of Broadsbeat. The training included fast helming, dealing with a man overboard, injuries, fires, sinkings and pollution. Working in strong ebb and flood tides near Breydon Bridge brings a real sense of realism. Ferry gliding and navigating at night were also covered. The last part of the day was spent navigating in the dark using the radar and GPS with the cabin windows blacked out so that there were no visual references. The rest of the crew still use the good old Mark 1 eyeball in case all the technology stops working.

Rangers are currently investigating an allegation of a very fast vessel passing a moored vessel on the Lower Bure.

Escorts have continued, as has Adjacent Water toll work with follow-up enquiries from previous reports. Routine work has included clearing rubbish from the rivers and moorings and dealing with owners who have allowed their dogs to foul 24 hour moorings.

High winds hold up dredging

By Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment

The strong winds have caused delays with the dredging programme with work stopping on three occasions on the Upper Thurne & at Upton Dyke. With calmer weather forecast for a few days we will be continuing dredging at Thurne Mouth, Upton Dyke & the River Chet (upstream near the boat yards).

Two staff visited RSPB Minsmere to see the Pisten Bully harvester cutting reedbeds and using the arisings to make bricketts for log burners – a very heavy machine (not suitable for our delicate peat marshes due to weight and shear bulk). It was a useful visit as it was good to see technology and machinery working together to resolve the issue of re-using reed cuttings.
                                                                                                                                               
One of our Konik ponies has been having problems with an injured rear leg and last week staff  assisted the vet in getting the leg x-rayed. Not an easy task with a wild pony!!

Maintenance Teams are busy with the following:

  • Continuing the installation of safety ladders, chains and gauge board replacements at Potter moorings
  • Continuing clearance of reed bed at Hoveton Riverside Park with volunteers
  • Tree work on the Upper Bure
  • Refurbishments and repairs at Hardley Cross and How Hill moorings
  • New car park posts being installed at Horstead Mill
  • Repairs to Ranworth boardwalk.