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