Monday, 21 December 2015

Thorpe Island - full facts updated


Planning consent is the issue at Jenner’s Basin, which is the only area concerned with the rest of Thorpe Island not affected. Landowner Roger Wood believes permission was already in place through a covenant and existing rights when he bought the land.

This is a complicated case but the fact is that Mr Wood has taken it to two Secretary of State planning inspectors, an Appeal Court judge and a High Court judge who have all ruled that the covenant does not constitute the permission he needs and that there were no existing rights.

Nevertheless one planning inspector’s decision, upheld by the High Court judge, was to allow Mr Wood mooring for 25 boats, subject to Mr Wood giving information within three months about how certain conditions such as landscaping, access and parking provision, would be met. Mr Wood has appealed against this decision however and has said in planning committee that mooring for 25 boats would be insufficient for his business requirements.

We have utmost sympathy for Mr Wood's tenants in Jenners Basin who are caught in this dispute but as a planning authority are bound by law to uphold planning legislation and these rulings. Landowners and landlords are required to meet planning requirements as everyone else.

The situation has been wholly misrepresented, it is absolutely not an attempt to “gentrify” or “socially cleanse” an area and the accusation that the Broads Authority is developing the site is a fabrication with no basis in evidence whatsoever. If this was the case we would be going against our own planning policies that define the site as a conservation area.

Full information and documents

Eviction notices have not been sent

We are not forcing anyone out now but telling them through letters before action as our legal obligation that we plan to apply for an injunction after the deadline because of the repeated refusals by Mr Wood to seek consent for his developments.

The Broads Authority does not have the power to issue eviction notices and the application for the injunction will take some weeks to go through the courts. Mr Wood has been aware of the decision to apply for an injunction since 21 August.

Complaint against Broads Authority Chairman

The allegations against Chairman Jacquie Burgess have been referred to the Monitoring Officer but to date we have not received the evidence from the complainant required to take this any further. We can categorically and unreservedly state that she did not describe the residents of Thorpe Island as ‘feral’.
Professor Burgess made a comment about the site having the appearance of a shanty town in respect of the physical aspects of the unlawful development in contrast to its conservation status, not in relation to its residents.

Lastly, while we support everyone’s right to make a complaint we are very disappointed by the personally abusive nature of the attacks against Professor Burgess on social media and through emails sent directly to her.

Electricity and water

We were not aware until recently that Mr Wood was supplying electricity and water. We now know that the supply is through solar panels installed on a large container on the site. This container has been part of planning case since it started in 2011.

Despite giving two assurances over the years that he would remove the container and despite knowing it was part of the wider case Mr Wood recently installed the panels without making any alternative arrangements for the supply of electricity to his tenants.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Hickling dredging starts

Dredging has started on Hickling Broad as cold temperatures allow work to begin.

The priority dredging involves sediment being removed from the top end of the Broad near the sailing club and Parish Staithe.

This will be transported to Duck Island where it is being pumped into the lagoon created by the Authority in 2013/14.

The project aims to remove 3,000 cubic metres of sediment within 10 weeks and top up the lagoon area. The extra material being placed into the lagoons will further help the colonisation of reed and reed mace (typher).

The dredging is being carried out in accordance to the strict specification set by Natural England to ensure the vitally important habit and ecology of Hickling is protected.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Broads funding protected in Chancellor's spending review

The Broads Authority's national park grant is to be protected from cuts for the next four years, the Chancellor George Osbourne announced as part of the Government's comprehensive spending review.

The news, which came despite a 15% cut in funding to Defra, was gladly welcomed by the Authority.

Chief Executive John Packman said: "We are delighted that the funding of National Parks has been protected for the next four years.

"This demonstrates how well the Government understands and appreciates the immense value we give the country for very little investment – less than 90p per person a year.

"Not only do the 15 parks have a priceless positive impact on people’s well-being but the economic contribution from tourism and other businesses is greater than that of the UK aerospace industry."

The Authority has seen a 40% cut in real terms to its national park grant over the last six years but has worked hard to ensure this has not had a negative impact on looking after the Broads. In addition to savings from a back office restructure and moving premises, officers have increased commercial revenue and secured external funding and sponsorship.

National Parks UK is also continuing to pursue commercial sponsorship on a national level.

Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive Fiona Howie said: “It is great news that the Chancellor has listened to concerns about the future of English national parks and confirmed their funding will be protected for the rest of this Parliament.

“National parks are nationally important assets which deliver important environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to both local communities and the nation and it’s wonderful that their value has been recognised."

Friday, 20 November 2015

Tolls set for 2016/17

Broads Authority members set navigation charges for next year today.

The charges will allow extra work to be carried out for the benefit of the boating community including practical work at Hickling Broad together with an increase in overall operational activities, such as tree clearance across the system.

The three principle uses of the income are dredging the rivers and broads, maintaining the infrastructure and facilities, particularly the network of more than 60 free 24 hour moorings, and patrolling by the Authority’s Rangers.

Members of the Authority adopted the recommendations of its Navigation Committee including the reduction in the multiplier for weekly hired craft from 2.62 to 2.55. This was in recognition of both the importance of the hire boat industry to the local economy and the pressures upon it.

The new charges mean that a small private sailing boat of 5m2 will pay an extra £2.52 for the year and a similar sized private motor boat an extra £5.04.

In cash terms the reduction in the multiplier will bring the increase for hire boats more into line with the rise for private boats. For example a 48m2 private boat will pay an extra £26.18 for the year and the same sized hire boat £32.50. If the multiplier had been left unchanged the rise for the hire boat would have been £57.69.

Overall 92% of the private boats will pay less than £20 extra per annum.

Renewal forms for the 10,000 users of the Broads navigation will be sent out next February and March in advance of the start of the new season on 1 April.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Hickling dredging - update

The Authority is still waiting for the water temperature in Hicking Broad to fall below the threshold limit of 8°C before it starts its important dredging work in the marked channel of the broad. Once it drops below 8°C, dredging will start.

Much of the plant and machinery is in place. The necessary pontoons are through Potter Bridge, to be re-assembled and loaded at Martham. The jet float to support the concrete pump pipeline has been installed within the first lagoon.

The water temperature has been consistently above 8°C, so no dredging work can take place yet. The latest weather predictions from the Met Office are that air temperatures may drop over the weekend of the 21 and 22 November which means that work could start on Monday 23 November.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Broads Landscape Partnership secures £2.6m from Heritage Lottery Fund

Halvergate marshes by Mike Page
The Broads Landscape Partnership has received an earmarked grant¹ of £2.6m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership (LP) programme² for the Water, Mills and Marshes project, it was announced today.

The project aims to enrich and promote heritage sites in the area between Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Acle and Loddon, unlock the benefits of this distinctive landscape for local people and give them the skills to protect it as a legacy for future generations.

Development funding of £226,000 has
also been awarded to help the partnership progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. Work on the development phase will begin this year while the second round is scheduled for 2017. Fifty-five organisations will then be involved in implementing 38 individual projects over a five-year delivery phase. The project will be worth a total of £4.5m including match funding.

The scheme will see people from all walks of life and ages from urban and rural areas understanding, benefitting from and enjoying the special landscape of the Broads and, through capturing stories from older generations and training younger people in heritage skills, will ensure that it is enjoyed for the future.

Iconic drainage mills on Halvergate marshes, an area which boasts one of the greatest concentrations in Europe, will be documented and renovated through a Heritage Construction Skills training scheme.

Local people's access to, and appreciation of, activities within their landscape will improve through activity points at each of the urban hubs, improved interpretation and information throughout the area and through initiatives like Youth Ranger schemes and special celebrations.

The project will also explore potential archaeological sites and recreate the skills required in the reconstruction of the medieval Chet boat.

Halvergate Highs by Julian Claxton
The Broads National Park is a mosaic of land and water shaped by people over centuries through their interaction with it for work and recreation and as a result is rich in unique and important built and natural heritage as well as hidden archaeology. It is also home to more than a quarter of the nation’s rarest species, despite occupying less than 0.1% of the UK.

John Packman, Chief Executive of lead partner the Broads Authority, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with this award which will not only help enhance the Broads landscape but will broaden people’s idea of what that landscape means, help them connect with it and give them the skills to cherish it.”

Explaining the importance of HLF’s support, Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “The Broads National Park is Britain's largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway, and one of the most beautiful and recognisable landscapes in the UK.

“It also contains a fascinating array of built, industrial heritage in the form of drainage mills, ancient dykes and listed buildings. I’m delighted that thanks to National Lottery players we have been able to fund this project to save this precious drained marsh landscape, conserve threatened habitats and species, and to reconnect people with the natural heritage all around them.”

A selection of partner and MP quotes are below: Director of Construction at Easton and Otley College, Lynsey Wilson, said, "The college will be offering our current students the opportunity of gaining new skills and work experience via this scheme. We will also be looking to recruit new students to provide support for an initiative that will see them working on projects across Norfolk and Suffolk."

Hugh Taylor, Mayor of Beccles, said: “The development of public access to, and visitor facilities within, the Broads National Park is something which will benefit everyone who lives near and all who treasure the delights of the River Waveney and the surrounding landscape.”

Linda Rogers, Head of Development at Voluntary Norfolk, said: “Right from the start, the Partnership has recognised the importance and value of involving volunteers and local communities in enjoying, understanding and caring for the Broads and we look forward to being part of the ongoing development of this extraordinary project.”
Heritage skills training

Norfolk County Councillor and Heritage Champion Brian Watkins said: “A great strength is the involvement of so many people and communities who will be working together to deliver real benefits to the area’s heritage and to the many people who live in, work in and visit the Broads.”

Greg Luton, Planning Director at Historic England, said: “In the East of England, windmills, wind pumps and watermills are high on our 'at risk' list of buildings. Some 41% of those mills at risk nationally are here in the East. This is why the Water, Mills and Marshes: Broads Landscape Partnership project is so important.”

Jacquie Burgess, Chairman of the Broads Authority, said: "Members are delighted that the hard work by Broads Authority staff and our partners in preparing the bid has been rewarded. We all look forward to an exciting 18 months, as plans for the projects included in the bid are firmed up."

Peter Aldous, MP for Lowestoft, said: “The Broads National Park is a unique British landscape, with Beccles Quay and Nicholas Everitt Park being its Suffolk gateways. Their enhancement and the other proposed works will not only help tourism and jobs, but will ensure that this special area is conserved, protected and enhanced for the benefit of Lowestoft and Beccles residents.”

To find out more about the project visit

Monday, 26 October 2015

Gauge boards should be taken as accurate measure

By Steve Birtles, Head of Safety Management

Monday’s Eastern Daily Press story about bridge crashes stated the gauge board at Vauxhall Bridge had been adjusted by three inches to give the impression of less headroom. While the statement was an accurate quote taken from committee papers it does not fully reflect the whole picture.

Vauxhall Bridge is in very close proximity to the road bridge. These bridges have different clearance heights but boaters must be able to pass under both to safely navigate that part of the river Bure which is the gateway to and from Breydon water.

In the past the individual heights on each bridge have been displayed but for safety reasons the gauge boards now all show the correct height under the lowest point which is at Vauxhall bridge.

The gauge boards have also been set to take into account the effect of the tide at Breydon which can cause small variations in readings.

Detailed measurements were taken at all states of the tide to ensure accuracy and the Broads Authority continually monitors each gauge board to ensure it is showing the correct clearance for the bridge.

The height given on the gauge boards should be taken as an accurate measure of the height available under the bridges.

Boaters should plan to cross Breydon at low water when there is the maximum clearance available under the bridges. Great Yarmouth Yacht Station can be contacted on 01493 842794 for advice on crossing and information on current tide conditions.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Navigation Committee proposes reduction in hire boat mutliplier

Navigation Committee members today came forward with their own proposal to recommend to the Broads Authority that tolls income should increase by 4.5% but that the multiplier paid by hire boat operators should be lowered.

Members examined a range of options from Broads Authority officers for the setting of tolls for 2016/17 but formulated a new proposal that would see most of the work programme retained but included a reduction in the hire boat multiplier from 2.62 to 2.55.

Concerns were raised about the ongoing decline in hire boats on the Broads and information from the Broads Hire Boat Federation that another 20 to 30 boats are likely to leave the industry next year.

The result of changing the multiplier means a 2.3% increase for hire boat tolls and a 5.8% increase for private boats.

If the proposal is adopted by the Broads Authority at its meeting on 20 November the planned removal of the hazardous Dickey Works at the entrance to Breydon Water would be postponed.

However the increase would fund other programmed work for the benefit of the boating community, including the much-demanded continuation of the Hickling project, the renewal of channel markers across Breydon Water, the use of contractors to assist with tree clearance and implementing the mooring and piling refurbishment programme.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Navigation Committee to discuss tolls

The Navigation Committee will be consulted on next year’s charges at its meeting on Thursday (22 October).

You can read the full report, which looks at the how much of a rise will be needed to fund different levels of navigation work to benefit boaters.

The committee will discuss possible rises from 3.9% to 6.4% and what work they will support.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Innovative Broads project commended in national awards

Reedbed restoration work in progress at Duck Broad
A project to restore an eroded reedbed utilising barricade building techniques used by the Army in Afghanistan has commended at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

The Broads Authority project at Duck Broad was one of four shortlisted for the Environment category in the Living Waterways Awards which took place at a ceremony in Westminster tonight.

The project has helped separate the broad from the main channel and improve water quality within it. Wildfowl have been seen making their homes there again.

It competed against winners the Inland Waterways Association Himalayan Balsam Campaign and fellow runners up the River Tale Restoration at Ottery St Mary and Wolvercote Lakes in Oxford.

An independent panel of experts, led by Christopher Rodrigues CBE, selected the finalists for the awards which were launched by the Canal & River Trust in January in a bid to recognise the most inspiring and exciting waterway-based improvement projects across the UK.

Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Living Waterways Awards celebrate the individuals, communities and organisations that have done the most to make a difference to the nation’s rivers, canals, lochs, lakes, reservoirs and docks, making them exciting places to live, learn and spend time.

“After a series of visits and assessments, which saw the expert judges travel from Sandwich to Enniskillen and from Glasgow to Devon, we are thrilled to announce the shortlist of finalists.”

The project at Duck Broad saw reinforced steel baskets, filled with rocks and sediment, joined together to make the perimeter of a one hectare spit of land. This was filled with 10,000 cubic metres of sediment dredged from Heigham Sound and planted with common reed and reedmace.

It restored the reedbed to how it would have looked in 1946, based on aerial photography.

The dredging of Heigham Sound to create the reedbed has also improved channel depth for navigation.

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

For more information about the awards visit the Canal & River Trust

Friday, 25 September 2015

New apprentice scheme

This week three apprentices joined our staff under a new scheme.

Following induction and initial training they’ll be starting work in the Construction and Maintenance teams.  

The apprentices will give support and gain valuable skills in land and water based construction work such as timberwork, groundwork and boat handling, and will also learn conservation skills and fen management techniques. 

They’ll be based in Norwich, but the nature of the Broads means that they’ll be working across Norfolk and Suffolk, gaining an understanding of the Broads environment as well as practical skills. 
The apprentices' training will be supervised by Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment, and delivered by experienced Senior Operations Technicians. The scheme has been set up in conjunction with Easton and Otley College.

“We have selected three keen and enthusiastic young people who will develop good practical skills and gain an NVQ in environmental management. We are all looking forward to the challenge,” said Rob.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Surplus vessels and equipment going for auction

The Broads Authority will be holding an auction to sell off surplus vessels, equipment and trailers from the Authority’s Dockyard.

The sale items will be available for viewing on 21 and 22 July 2015 between 9am and 3pm by appointment only.

Please telephone 01603 756085 to book a viewing.

A catalogue, bidding information and bidding forms can be found here.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Fish survey reveals good results in the Broads

Anglers are being given reassuring news by the latest fish stock survey which has revealed positive results on the Broads.

With the new coarse fishing season the Environment Agency (EA) is now encouraging anglers to make sure they have a rod licence so they can explore the excellent fishing in the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.

The news follows the rescue operation led by the EA in March and April to save 700,000 fish from Hickling Broads and Upper Thurne, one of the biggest operations in history.

You can find out more in the EA's full press release.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Annual open morning

Our Annual Open Morning is this Saturday from 10am at Thorpe Dockyard.

This is your chance to talk to members and officers about the work of the Authority and to ask questions of the Chief Executive.

If you need a parking space please do book one but at this stage RSVPs for attending are not required (although welcome so we can get an idea of numbers!).

Just turn up on the day with your questions, there is no need to send these in advance, or to just look at our displays or have a peek inside the Dockyard.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

New Navigation Committee

The new Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Navigation Committee have both also been appointed to full Authority.

Michael Whitaker was chosen as Navigation Committee Chairman and James Knight as the Vice Chairman and will represent the committee at full Authority meetings.

The pair are joined on the Navigation Committee by four new members Linda Aspland, Bill Dickson, Nicky Talbot and Brian Wilkins.

Michael has been a keen sailor since he learnt at school and is now the Chairman of the Broads Hire Boat Federation.

He had a career in the international packaging and automation machinery industries before becoming a yacht broker a yacht broker in Potter Heigham then a partner in Herbert Woods.

Michael said he was particularly keen to address the outcomes from the recent stakeholder surveys.

“I believe I can play a very important role in working to improve the relationship between the Authority and the hire boat industry that will be of mutual benefit,” he said.

James, a Chartered Surveyor by profession, has spent the last 11 years developing holiday experiences at Waveney River Centre and Horning Ferry Marina.

“I’m able to represent a wide range of navigational interests, including those of private owners and hire boat operators, and I also understand the environmental challenges facing the Broads and the economic needs of the tourism industry,” he said.

“I’m focused on helping the Authority to engage more with its stakeholders and to be more member led, and look forward to working with Michael and the other members to ensure that we continue to provide thoughtful, well-informed guidance to the Authority."

Linda, who has lived in Norfolk for 45 years, retired from her final role as a national promoter for Teachers TV in 2011 after a career in the management of education.

A member of the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club she has sailed for 50 years. She also helps with the Hunter Fleet and Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Linda said: “I am delighted to be appointed to Navigation Committee which will give me the opportunity to make a real contribution to my new community on the Broads and use my eclectic knowledge and skills for the benefit of other river users.”

Bill, another boat owner, lives by the Bure at Hoveton with his wife Tricia.

The retired diplomat and former HM Ambassador to Mongolia has worked in Hong Kong, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha and Northern Iraq.

He is currently CEO of Independent (UK) Exports, Director of Independent LLC  overseas importing and manufacturing, Partner in International Export Partners, Director of Orgill Dickson Associates and Director of MongoliaNation.

Bill said: "I am delighted and honoured to have been selected to become a Navigation Committee member for such a highly professional, world-class organisation as the Broads Authority.”
Nicky’s career has been in project management, marketing and market research and she currently works on a part-time basis for Norfolk Wildlife Trust. She is also a BA volunteer and Broads Climate Community volunteer assistant.

A member of Norfolk Broads Yacht Club and the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association she regularly competes in a Yare and Bure One Design and is also a part-owner of a traditional motorboat.

She said: “I am looking forward to being part of a team that is committed to working in the best interest of the Broads and contributing to the decision making process.”

Brian is a Chartered Civil Engineer working with Norwich based Canham Consulting on a range of infrastructure projects including marine and river engineering, and in the energy and healthcare sectors.

He said his first Navigation Committee meeting exceeded expectations mainly due to the interesting site visit to Goodchild Marine at Burgh Castle and the Turn-Tide Jetty reconstruction project on Breydon Water.

He said: “I valued the full exchange of views at the members briefing, and I found the committee format conducive to satisfactory discussion, with no shortage of well-articulated views from all members, new and experienced alike.”

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Urgent work to Mutford Lock

Broads Authority engineers are working hard to get Mutford Lock back into action as soon as possible again after one of the gate bearings stopped sealing.

Divers have been investigating the issue and it is hoped to get the Lock repaired in two to three weeks.

The exact cause is unknown and, while there is a possibility it is related to the December 2013 flooding, it is separate to the repairs work on the hydraulic and electrical control systems carried out last year which failed after the surge.

Costs for the repair have not been finalised but are likely to be a few thousand pounds and, thanks to the Authority’s success in its bid for £80,000 from Defra for last year’s repairs, that money went back into the Mutford Lock reserve account so will be available to pay for a replacement bearing as well as future works to the Victorian lock.

Tom Hunter, Rivers Engineer for the Broads Authority, said: “We knew the bearing would need replacing in due course but it was not identified as an immediate issue and has needed attention far sooner than anticipated. “

As well as replacing the hydraulic and electrical control components last year the Broads Authority also brought in specialist contractors to clear the lock gates, cills and sluices of debris, remove and replace a cable duct and repair winding mechanisms.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Authority's strategic priorities set for next year

At last Friday’s meeting the Broads Authority adopted five strategic priorities for the coming year.

1.    Broads Plan Review
It is time to update the Management Plan for the Broads and our target is to consult on a 1st Draft by the end of February 2016

2.    Broads Landscape Partnership
We are preparing an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for support for a range of projects.  1st Application has to be in by 1st June 2015.

3.    Hickling Broad Restoration Project
Our aim is to develop a long-term approach to the restoration of Hickling Broad, building on the scientific evidence from the Broads Lake Review which will be published in the near future. Our aim is to have an agreed vision for the lake by September 2015.

4.    Promoting the Broads
The Sustainable Tourism Plan for the Broads will be revised and the Broads National Park branding implemented.

5.    Stakeholder Action Plan
Last year’s surveys of boat owners, boatyards, visitors and residents identified a number of issues which we want to pursue through dialogue with key stakeholders.

Many of these actions will go over more than one year and in addition we will be carrying out all our normal work including restoring and managing areas of fen, removing 50,000m3 of sediment from the navigation area, encouraging and informing our visitors on what is on offer, processing planning applications and continuing with our innovative partnership work on managing the catchment.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Turntide jetty works to be completed by July

Much needed work on 160-year-old Turntide Jetty for the benefits of boaters on Breydon Water is to be expected to be completed by July at a cost of £338,000.
The failing Yare wall of Turntide Jetty

The Broads Authority awarded a contract in January for the re-piling of the jetty, which was first constructed in the 1860s.

This jetty directs the flow of the rivers Yare and Waveney where they meet at the southern end of Breydon Water and is a prominent landmark for vessels heading across Breydon Water to the southern rivers and broads.

The Authority inherited it when management of the Breydon Water and Lower Bure navigations was transferred from Great Yarmouth Port Authority in 2010 and recognised that, like a number of other timber structures on Breydon Water, it was in serious decline with some of the piled walls failing and becoming a hazard to navigation.

With significant investment clearly required the we began by commissioning a sediment and water flow study of Breydon water.

This hydromorphological study involved modelling the typical flow regimes in and around Breydon Water, with the aim to predict the likely consequences of maintaining or removing the declining structures of Turntide Jetty and the Dickey Works.

The research also helped us understand the likely dredging requirements under these different scenarios of replaced or removed structures.

The work was completed by a team of specialists from JBA Consulting based in Yorkshire, partnered with the renowned Dutch hydraulic specialists Deltares, who gatherered the data and ran specialist 3D computer models.

In relation to Turntide Jetty the study showed that the structure does effectively direct the flow of the Yare and reduce accumulation of sediment in the Waveney channel. The study did however also suggest that a shorter jetty would still produce the same effect, and direct the flow of the River Yare as desired.
On this basis the decision was made to embark on a project to reconstruct the essential part of Turntide Jetty.

Together with Norwich-based engineering consultants from Canham Consulting, a design was drawn up for a hardwood piled structure similar to the existing jetty which has lasted so long.

A careful tender process was then undertaken at the end of last year for the construction work and the successful contractor G.T Rochester Plant Ltd. from Aylsham will begin work this month.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

New dredging equipment for the Broads

The Wherry Gleaner
The Broads Authority has taken charge of a second new mud wherry as part of a ten year strategy to replace old equipment.

Much of the equipment was given at no charge to the Authority when it bought the Griffin Lane dockyard from May Gurney in 2008 and it was always known it had a limited life and would need replacement.

Named Gleaner after an old timber sailing wherry that carried cargo into Norwich, the new wherry has been built to a bespoke design by local naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme to transport sediment dredged from the rivers to other locations for re-use. She was constructed in Ireland by John Kearney, the builder of her sister wherry Iona and has joined her in dredging the River Ant this winter.

This new design of wherry is smaller at 16.5m long and can carry up to 40 tonnes of sediment in the hold. It is stable, manoeuvrable and is small enough to navigate the narrower rivers like the Chet and Ant.

A third wherry of the same design as Iona and Gleaner is being commissioned with delivery due at the end of 2015.

Also retiring is a steel hulled barge with a crane mounted inside which has  given many years’ service removing sediment from the Broads. The crane is being removed and her spare parts recycled to help maintain the other cranes.

It is being replaced with a versatile 360 long reach excavator which will sit on linkflotes and dredge using a new hydraulic clam shell bucket.

Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment, said:
“Over the last four years we have purchased three long reach hydraulic excavators, two new wherries and a set of four linkflotes.

“Maintaining the navigation of the Broads National Park requires different plant and equipment, as the width and depth of the rivers and broads varies, meaning a combination of small and large vessels are required. Modern excavators are able to swap between dredging, offloading, landscaping, watercourse management and piling much easier than the traditional grab cranes and offer a more versatile service.

The investment in the new equipment and vessels demonstrates the Broads Authority’s commitment to improving water depth, maintaining safe, clearly marked channels and minimising disruption to the users of the waterbodies.”

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Delight at £715,000 boost to Broads cycling

A £715,000 boost for a Broads cycling and walking route has been greeted with delight by the Authority, Norfolk County Council and local campaigners.

The award from the Government's Cycling Ambition in National Parks initiative was announced today by the Department for Transport.

The allocation, supported with further funding from the County Council and Broads Authority, will go towards a £1m cycle and walking route between Hoveton and Horning. This will be the first phase of the Three Rivers Way, a long-planned project that will ultimately connect Wroxham Hoveton, Horning, Ludham and Potter Heigham.

This first phase will run along the northern side of the A1062, providing improved local travel to school, work and shops, as well as an attractive route for visitors. For those arriving by train or car, the route is supported by cycle hire at Hoveton, Bewilderwood and Horning giving access to healthy countryside cycling, including riverside amenities and Bewilderwood itself, a nationally recognised tourist attraction.

The proposed scheme has significant local support which was fundamental to the success of the bid. A safe route should encourage a wider range of people on to bicycles, including families and the active retired. Their spending power will support village outlets, particularly those supplying food and drink. Increased spending in traditional local businesses will also help support the rural economy. Works are planned to start early next year (2016) with completion by the summer.

Adrian Clarke, Senior Waterways and Recreation Officer at the Broads Authority, said: "This is fantastic news. It will make it so much easier for visitors to choose to cycle when they come to the Broads National Park by improving cycle links to the rail network, which is one of the key aims of our Integrated Access Strategy. In the future we would like to develop cycling facilities and link the Three Rivers Way route to the villages of Ludham and Potter Heigham."

Peter Howe of Broadland Cycle Hire and the Three Rivers Way Association said: “This is truly fantastic news for the Three Rivers Way Association and for the area. We have been working on this project for around ten years, so it is hard to believe that we have been successful at last. It's a much-needed improvement that will allow people to get out into the countryside.

"This is a landmark announcement. It will bring more focus on completion of the whole Three Rivers Way, but it also recognises that investment in cycling is needed in rural areas, as well as cities."

Cllr Toby Coke, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Development & Transport Committee said: “I am absolutely delighted, and particularly pleased for the local people and businesses who have campaigned long and hard for the Three Rivers Way. There have been setbacks, but this announcement shows what can be achieved through partnership – and persistence.

“The County Council and Broads Authority have continued to give their backing because it is an excellent example of a project that ensures the vitality of tourism in rural Norfolk, and at the same time provides a welcome new amenity for local people. It will link local communities and businesses, and offers healthy travel choices for all users.”

Cllr Nigel Dixon, County Councillor for Hoveton and Stalham, said it was an important step forward in providing sustainable transport: "This will be a great asset, particularly for cyclists. I hope we will soon see families bringing their bikes on the train and cycling to Bewilderwood and on to Horning. This is the first significant step in linking Hoveton and Potter Heigham."

Cllr David Thomas, Member for North Smallburgh, which includes Horning, said. "I'm absolutely delighted - its the reward for hard work by local people. They were knocked back when an earlier bid was unsuccessful, but decided to give it another go. I believe this first phase will be the ice-breaker leading to completion of the whole route, all the way to Potter Heigham."

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New Navigation Committee members

The Navigation Committee will be welcoming eight members following a comprehensive selection process.

A total of thirteen candidates were interviewed by a panel chaired by John Edmonds, former Chairman of the Inland Waterways Advisory Council and including Authority Chairman Stephen Johnson, Richard Card, Chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association (NSBA) and Alan Morgan representing the British Marine Federation (BMF).

The following candidates were recommended for appointment.

Under category A (after consultation with bodies representing the owners of pleasure craft available for hire or reward): James Knight (nominated by the BHBF and BMF) and Michael Whitaker (nominated by the BHBF and BMF)

Category B (after consultation with bodies representing nationally the owners of private pleasure craft: Nicky Talbot (nominated by the NSBA and Royal Yachting Association)

Category C (after consultation with bodies representing the owners of private pleasure craft which use any part of the Broads: Brian Wilkins (nominated by the NSBA and RYA)

Category D (after consultation with bodies representing persons who are likely to be required to pay ship, passenger or goods dues): Linda Aspland and William Dickson.

Category E (after consultation with bodies representing other users of the navigation area): Max Heron (nominated by British Rowing and the Eastern Region Rowing Council)

Group F (after consultation with the Great Yarmouth Port Authority): Alan Goodchild

The views of both the Navigation Committee and consultee interest groups will be sought on these recommendations before the Broads Authority makes the final decision at its meeting on 20 March 2015.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Survey will shape services

Results from the largest ever survey of Broads Authority stakeholders are set to shape the way the area is managed.

Insight Track carried out the independent survey on behalf of the Authority, asking a range of searching questions tailored to four specific groups - residents, private boat owners, hire boat operators and visitors.

Topics ranged from trends in boat use to how the Broads is promoted with varying results from the different groups.

The Authority is now undertaking an analysis of the responses to inform future strategy and policy and is keen to communicate with key stakeholders in doing so.

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Authority, said: “The results are fascinating and very informative and our thanks go out to everyone who took part. This is the first time such a comprehensive exercise has been carried out to shape the way we work.

“Over the next few weeks we will be looking at how to respond to some of the key information that has emerged, identifying the inevitable learning points and engaging with stakeholders, members and officers to develop an action plan that will help us communicate better, address concerns and develop our strengths.”

Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the Broads Authority, said: “All the information generated by the surveys is extremely helpful to us. In some cases it has corroborated existing policy and much of it is very encouraging, and shows where the work of the Authority is valued and is having a positive effect.

“But as you would expect there are also some critical remarks in the feedback, and we will be looking hard at what we should do to improve our performance in areas where we are not perceived as doing so well.”

A report is going to the Broads Authority committee next Friday, 23 January. It can be found with the committee papers.