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.