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.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Broads Control update - Emergency rescue in bad weather

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Yesterday’s short, sharp period of extremely wet and windy weather resulted in an emergency call for ranger assistance after a vessel broke down and was blown onto the flints near St Benet’s Abbey. Another vessel went to help but was unable to do anything. The local rangers recovered the stricken vessel but the winds were so strong that both private craft were left at St Benet’s moorings and their crews were taken to our boatshed and given a lift home.

A small tree came down at Whitlingham at the weekend which was quickly dealt with. Other tree work has also been undertaken there during the week. 

We have been dealing with some debris from December's storms that was spotted on Oulton Broad and rangers have also been retrieving lifebuoys that are repeatedly being thrown into the water from the North Quay and the High Quay in Great Yarmouth.

Night training continued on Breydon Water on Monday evening. We escorted one large rig this week and the local ranger on the Bure has been working on Cockshoot Broad moorings with four of his volunteers.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Broads Control update - New speed gun trials held

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The rangers tested a new radar and laser speed gun that we are considering purchasing or leasing. The new speed guns are just as accurate as our existing ones which are now getting older and spares may become a problem in the future.

The rangers also attended a free 2 hour prosecution and witness training session given by 3 local barristers at City Hall last week.

The spate of thefts of outboard engines has continued. Some went missing in the Thurne area overnight on the weekend of 1st/2nd February and more were discovered stolen on Thursday at Ludham Bridge. I would urge people to use Broadsbeat's Engine Covers as I am not aware that an engine fitted with one has ever been stolen:

The weekend rangers received a call to a large motor cruiser sinking at its moorings on the Lower Bure. They attended with a pump and managed to prevent it sinking.

Tree work has continued with rangers working with volunteers at Train Reach at Brundall.

Interest in the two launches for sale continues and we also advertised for expressions of interest in a 4 launch refit contract.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Operations Update - more dredging gets underway

By Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance & Environment

Dredging has now started in the entrance to the River Thurne. The spoil is being taken for offloading onto land upstream of Thurne White Mill. This is a long strip of flood wall which Broadland Environmental Services would like reinforced.

Dredging has also commenced in Upton Dyke. This is being sidecast onto the downstream bank.

Dredging is continuing in the River Chet near to the Pyes Mill moorings with the spoil being placed behind the adjacent floodwall. This is being rehandled by a second machine.

The fen excavator is now working at Hall Fen, Irstead, carrying out dyke maintenance and pond creation work.

Mutford Lock

The Broads Authority has been working hard to rectify damage to the electrical and hydraulic control systems at Mutford Lock following flooding in December.

We understand it is a high priority for users and have been doing our best to get it back into operation.

Despite damage to the lock control systems it should have been possible to manually open the gates. However, one of the gates refuses to open. Engineers have found nothing visually wrong with the winding mechanism. The most likely cause of the issue is additional debris behind the gates so a dive team is going in tomorrow to remove any debris and inspect them.

If this is successful and no further issues are found the lock will be back in manual operation by the end of the week and we will keep our website updated.

The longer term solution - replacing the hydraulic system - is expected to take 10 to 14 weeks. This will make the lock more resilient to future flooding events.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Broads Control update - Busy time for ranger team

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Winter used to be a quieter time but these days rangers and their managers are busier than ever. We are advanced in our preparation for the summer season in relation to staffing and equipment.

The sale of the launches continues with a deadline of 21st March and we have just advertised the tender process for a new refit for four launches starting in November 2014.There have been some minor staff changes and Rob Hanger who was with us for two seasons as a seasonal ranger has obtained a full-time job in his chosen career. His post has already been filled.

On Saturday (25 Jan) the low tide was so low that we couldn’t get the launch out of the shed at Thorpe. This only happens about once in 10 years and is rather ironic as many parts of the country have too much water. The rangers continued to patrol by vehicle and two launches were out training staff and volunteers.

A great deal of tree work was undertaken by the rangers and volunteers during the week mainly on the Yare, Thurne and Neatishead. Rangers have also been cutting osier beds on our land at Potter Heigham. 

The Waveney team were in the office for part of the week working on their area plan. This is a working document that shows all that they propose to undertake in the area for the coming year. It also shows staff availability, our landholdings and agreements, patrol targets, events , education and community involvement commitments. An essential part of the team are the volunteers and the plan also includes their recruitment, training and tasking. 

The Thurne rangers did a scheduled patrol with the police and the EA Fisheries enforcement officer. The EA inspector found two people fishing with expired licences and the ranger had to deal with two anglers for registration offences. One had not registered his vessel and the other had purchased a rowing boat toll and was using the vessel with an outboard motor.

Three cases were heard at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court with all the persons summoned pleading guilty. Fines vary according to the seriousness of the case and the means of the offender. One case involved a vessel travelling fast at night without navigation lights on the Lower Waveney. Fines and costs totalled £225. The second case involved a fast private cruiser at high speed near Cantley. Fines and costs totalled £865. The last case involved six offences over two incidents on the Lower Waveney. Fines and costs amounted to over £1000.

Two rangers attended the Anglia Afloat Boat Show at Oulton Broad on Saturday and enjoyed chatting to boaters and answering their questions.