Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas from the Broads National Park

Welcome to the Broads National Park – that is the Christmas greeting after the long running legal battle over the national park name finally ended in the Authority’s favour.

The High Court gave the go ahead for the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads to use the term to clearly promote its special qualities, equivalent to those of the 14 other UK national parks.

And the Rt Hon Lord Justice Simon refused leave to appeal, signalling the end to more than a year of legal wrangling and the end of the process.

The Chair of the Broads Authority, Prof Jacquie Burgess said she was “thrilled” that the judge had recognised the clear rationale for the name.

“The Broads fully deserves to be known as a national park – as much as the Lake District, the Cairngorms or any of the US Parks such as the Everglades or Yosemite.”

The Broads was not designated under the 1949 National Park legislation because of the additional complexity associated with managing its waterways but was given an equivalent status to that of a National Park in 1989 under its own Act of Parliament.

The Broads Authority receives a National Park Grant, has the same first two purposes as the other National Parks relating to conservation and recreation and the Broads has the same protection under the planning legislation.

The move to identify the Broads as a National Park came out of a desire to more clearly promote its national park credentials and special qualities and Prof Burgess said the historic decision could benefit all three of its purposes.

“The National Park brand is internationally recognised and hugely appealing to visitors. It is shorthand for a place that is special, is properly looked after and deserves to be valued by everyone who visits and lives there,” she said.

“Using that term better promotes the special qualities of the Broads and highlights the importance of conservation while increased interest in the Broads from visitors will help support the boating industry.”

Broads Authority members took the decision in January 2015 to use the term Broads National Park to promote the area. The legal challenge was then brought by a local couple concerned about conservation interests because the previous long term ambition to become a national park in law was dropped as part of that decision.

The Broads Authority name will continue for the organisation itself.

The conclusion of the case following the judgement at the end of November was welcomed by stakeholders.

Peter Charlesworth, Chairman of National Parks UK, said: “National Parks UK wholeheartedly welcomes the decision by the high court to uphold the branding of this magnificent area as the Broads National Park.

“We’re confident that this strong sense of identity as one of the UK’s 15 most iconic landscapes can encourage more people to visit this wonderful place, learn more about its special qualities and experience the scenic waterways, rare wildlife and rich cultural heritage first hand.

“We are also positive that it can help highlight the vital contribution the UK’s National Parks make to the UK economy - attracting around 106 million visitors, and generating over £6 billion in spend each year.”

Julian Roughton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The Broads is not only one of the UK’s finest landscapes but is also exceptionally important amongst National Parks for its wildlife. National Park branding can attract more visitors to come for a superb wildlife experience and help ensure that the Broads’ special qualities are safeguarded for the future.”

Tony Urwin, Vice Chairman of Broads Tourism, said: "The phrase National Park is an instantly recognisable highly positive brand, both at home and internationally. Not only would it help promote the Broads to more visitors but those visitors will know from the National Park name what a very special place the Broads is.”

Michael Whittaker, Chairman of the Authority’s Navigation Committee, said: “Branding the area rather than seeking a legal change is an eminently pragmatic move which took into account the views of all representative groups during a thorough consultation process.”

Simon Altham, Managing Director of Hoseasons, said: “The national parks have entered into the psyche of British holidaymakers, and have become synonymous with everything the Broads has to offer as a destination; tranquillity, natural beauty and the enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks, said: “We see the Broads as an essential part of the National Parks family and are pleased that this decision has confirmed that the area can be promoted as such.”

Pete Waters, Executive Director of Visit East Anglia, said: “The only way we can get a competitive edge over other regions when it comes to attracting visitors is to leverage our unique assets and increase our saleability, and the Broads National Park will resonate not only nationally but internationally too.”

Friday, 18 November 2016

Members approve shake up in tolls

Members today approved the biggest shake up in Broads tolls for more than three decades in a bid to more fairly link charges to vessel size.

The Broads Authority met to debate the recommendations of the Tolls Review Group for a ‘straight line relationship’ directly between size of vessel by square metre and toll charge.

It means that smaller boats will pay less than previously and bigger boats more but Louis Baugh, Broads Authority and Tolls Review Group member said it was designed to make the system “fairer, simpler and more flexible”.

The proposal, with amendments recommended by the Navigation Committee to not increase the charge for Mutford Lock and to retain lower tolls for electric boats, was carried by 15 votes in favour with one against and two abstentions.

The total income from the hire boat and private boat collective fleets will remain in the same proportion as currently.

But after some debate about the value of passenger boats there was an additional proposal by members which was approved by 17 votes to one. This gives the Chief Executive delegated powers to consult with the Tolls Review Group to review and set passenger boat charges with any necessary redistribution of charges made within the commercial fleet.

The recommendations of the Tolls Review Group, made up of seven Authority members, five of whom are also Navigation Committee members and toll payers representing both commercial and private boating interests, came after a year of research and analysis.

Members also anticipate that the proposed new system will boost entry level boating which has been in decline while numbers of larger vessels have increased.

However it was also resolved by 16 votes to one against with one abstention that the Authority undertake an evaluation of the impact of the changes to the tolls structure in the autumn of 2019 as part of a second round of stakeholder research.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Fairer tolls proposed for boaters

The biggest shake up in Broads tolls for more than three decades would result in a fairer way of directly linking charges to vessel size, the Broads Authority announced today.

At present, in addition to navigation charges relating to size, there is a fixed cost imposed on every vessel, resulting in smaller boats paying proportionately more per square metre than bigger vessels.

But after a year of research and analysis the Tolls Working Group is recommending that only a charge based on size is used for greater fairness and simplicity.

The recommended ‘straight line relationship’ between size of vessel by square metre and toll charge means that smaller boats will pay less than previously and bigger boats more but has been designed to make the system more equitable, simple and flexible.

Even with the annual tolls rise being imposed the proposals mean that nearly half (44pc) of boaters would pay less in 2017/18 than in 2016/17 (full Navigation Committee report).

The Tolls Working Group, made up of seven Authority members, five of whom are also Navigation Committee members and toll payers representing both commercial and private boating interests, also anticipate that the proposed new system will boost entry level boating which has been in decline while numbers of larger vessels have increased.

The group’s report will now go to the Navigation Committee meeting next Thursday (27 October) when all its members will be asked to comment on the proposals before the full Authority decides whether to approve them.

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, said: “For a long while there has been a disproportionate relationship between size of boat and the amount of toll paid. While we understand that there will inevitably be those who benefit more than others from this recommended change the key aim is for the system to be fairer overall so that the charges for each vessel type are based on size and size alone.

“In effect each class of vessel on the Broads will, with the exception of a very small number of special cases, be charged a fixed amount per square metre. This also builds in the scope for flexibility to respond to changing situations.”

Greg Munford, Chief Executive of Richardson’s Leisure and a private boat owner, said: “The recommendations and rationale behind the introduction of the new tolls system looks sensible to me. It is far easier to understand and provides a solution that would be hard to argue is not fair when the toll each boat owner pays is based on the size of vessel that they own.”

Jacquie Burgess is Chairman of the Broads Authority and took the role of joint Chairman of the Tolls Working Group along with Michael Whitaker, a Partner at Herbert Woods hire boat operator. She said the group considered all evidence and views carefully and took into full consideration the responses after consulting with the Broads Hire Boat Federation and the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association.

Prof Burgess added: “There is no perfect answer to structuring the tolls system but after a year of comprehensively and carefully analysing all the evidence available, consulting with all the main boating organisations and taking into consideration their feedback as well as detailed stakeholder research I am confident that the Tolls Working Group has come up with the best and fairest solution possible.”

In light of feedback from commercial operators the group proposes that the hire boat multiplier of 2.55 is abandoned in favour of a fixed amount per square metre specific to each classification of vessel.

Seven categories are proposed for commercial vessels and five for private vessels. However rowing boats, canoes and kayaks will pay a fixed charge, which will depend on whether they are private or commercial.

The eight remaining traditional wherries will also see a considerably lower than at present flat rate to reflect and protect their iconic status and their importance to the cultural heritage of the Broads.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Your views, your Broads: Consultation on the revised draft Broads Plan 2017

The most important management plan for the Broads is being developed and the Broads Authority wants everyone to have their say.

The Authority is currently inviting comments on the revised draft Broads Plan, which is being reviewed and updated. A new plan will be implemented in April 2017, covering the period 2017-22.

A partnership plan, coordinated by the Broads Authority, it sets out a long-term vision for the Broads and guiding strategic actions for the benefit of the environment, local communities and visitors.

Andrea Long, Director of Planning and Resources, said: “The Broads Authority would like to hear what people think about managing water resources and flood risk, biodiversity, agriculture, navigation, landscape character, the historic environment, climate change, recreational experiences, connecting and inspiring people, and raising awareness of the Broads, or anything else which is important to them.”

The revised draft plan is available online at www.broads-authority.gov.uk/broadsconsultations

You can also view it at the Broads Authority’s Yare House office or at many local libraries and council offices.

Please send your comments by email to broadsplan@broads-authority.gov.uk or by post to Maria Conti, Strategy and Projects Officer, Broads Authority, Yare House, 62-64 Thorpe Road, Norwich NR1 1RY, to arrive by 4pm on Friday 30 December 2016.


Friday, 12 August 2016

Joint purchase of a boat by Chairman and Head of Planning

Last September Authority Chairman Jacquie Burgess and Head of Planning Cally Smith asked the Solicitor and Monitoring Officer to investigate whether the joint purchase of a small keelboat would infringe any of the Authority’s codes of conduct.

Piero Ionta, the then Solicitor and Monitoring Officer, cleared the purchase and it went ahead. Subsequently, Victoria McNeil, the Authority’s Monitoring Officer at that time, reviewed a complaint from a member of the Authority regarding the purchase and concluded there was no wrongdoing.

Jacquie and Cally are clear that the joint purchase has not affected their professionalism or decision making. However they appreciate that there may be a perception otherwise and therefore Jacquie has bought the boat fully so it is no longer jointly owned.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Water plants in Hickling Broad

By Dan Hoare, Environment and Design Supervisor

Surveys of Hickling Broad have demonstrated that less than a fifth of the broad bed is covered by plants.

Hydro-acoustic (sonar) surveys of the broad in mid-June found that detectable plants only covered 17.4% of the whole broad bed – a relatively low amount for such a naturally plant-dominated shallow waterbody.

The map below shows the area where plants were present as green hatchings and the water draught as depth contours. Development of any further plant growth over the summer will be followed closely.

Map showing the area where plants were present as green hatchings and the water draught as depth contours
The Broads Authority has agreement from Natural England for water plant cutting in the marked channel of Hickling Broad if water plants reach high growth levels throughout the Broad and boat access through to Hickling village is impeded.

Both organisations have a duty to protect the special ecological value of this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as well as ensuring peoples’ use and enjoyment of the area is maintained. We welcome the pragmatic and practical approach to the challenge of channel management and boating access taken by Natural England and the landowners, Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

The surveys showed several areas where water plants were high and visible to the surface, but these were distinct and confined to areas north of Pleasure Island, on the western margins and in the north bay.

There were also several patchy areas of less dense plants, but with tall (more than 50 cm) straggling growth. The tall plants were typically fennel-leaved pondweed and spiked water milfoil. It is these plant species that have caused issues with some keels and smaller engines getting fouled when travelling outside the marked channel.

The rare stonewort species were also present in the broad, growing close to the sediment in their characteristic billowing beds.

The data has been processed to provide the summary figures in the following table. The survey is carried out on a grid pattern over the broad, which totalled 12.4 kilometres of survey distance, to give a representative sample.


Average water depth (m)
0.68
Maximum water depth (m)
1.58
Average plant height (m)
0.18
Maximum plant height (m)
1.11
Area of broad covered by plants >8 cm (%)
17.4
Plants as % of water volume (PVI) (%)
5.5
 
An example of the graphical output of the survey is shown here where the red line is the surface of the plants present and the black line is the sediment surface. All the data collected is linked to a GPS so can be plotted accurately on maps to show where the plants are located.

Survey graphical output. The red line is the surface of the plants present and the black line is the sediment surface.
There are several ways to keep track of plant growth in the rivers and broads. Hydro-acoustic surveying equipment is just one method used by the Broads Authority. This electronic equipment is set to detect the presence water plants growing beneath the surface of the water, as well as the depth of the sediment at the bed of the river or broad.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Plaqueless tolls - update

We have been monitoring toll income closely after the decision was made to trial plaqueless boat tolls and have now also developed the online toll checker.

Based on June end figures for private boats and assuming the same level of tollpayers as last season the forecast is that income from private boats will be up on the budget figure.

However income from the commercial fleet is currently dow and analysis of the private boat fleet will be undertaken shortly to ascertain any changes in vessel numbers by category.

We have increased the number of Super Safety Days while the Rangers, with members of staff from the Tolls Office, carried out an intensive survey of marinas and other adjacent waters checking on the payment of tolls and Boat Safety Certificates.

The on-line tool for checking whether a boat has a valid toll and this is here.

We would be grateful for those regularly on the water if they would test it out for us. The data is loaded from the live file every night so at most it is 24 hours out of date.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Authority awarded permanent injunction at Jenner's Basin

The Broads Authority was today awarded a permanent injunction at Jenner’s basin by the High Court.

Landowner Roger Wood has been given three months to submit a planning application that accords with the independent Planning Inspector’s decision dating from 2014.

If he fails to do so then the site has to cleared within a further month. In addition the number of boats in the basin during this time has been capped at 20 – one less than the interim injunction granted in March. Mr Wood has also  been ordered to pay two-t‎hirds of the Authority’s legal costs. He sought permission to appeal this today but the judge refused. This final court order must now be complied with.

John Packman, Chief Executive, said: “We are satisfied with the judge’s decision which may be the push for Mr Wood to finally submit an acceptable planning application – for both the sake of householders living next to the site and for the boaters renting from Mr Wood in the basin who are caught up in the issue.

“We are pleased that the judge acknowledged that the Broads Authority had 'substantially succeeded' in its claim and that this was an appropriate case for seeking an injunction. He added that far from being open to criticism the Authority had conducted itself ‘meticulously and impeccably’.

“Despite claims to the contrary, a valid planning application has still not been received, never mind one that is in line with the 2014 independent Planning Inspector’s recommendations."

Mr Wood has been developing the site without planning permission for five years and renting out moorings. There are an estimated four to six residential boats in the basin.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

New Broads village at Norfolk Show

A Broads Village will be a focal point at the Royal Norfolk Show for the first time this year.

The Broads Authority has worked with show organsiers to co-ordinate the village and reflect the importance of the Broads National Park to the industries, culture and landscape in Norfolk.

As Britain’s largest protected wetland and member of the national park family, the Broads is a unique destination with many organisations involved in its promotion and protection.

This new addition to the Show aims to help people understand the significance of the Broads, not only for visitors outside of Norfolk but for locals who can discover the wealth of opportunities available both on and off the water. It will educate everyone about this unique rural environment with a range of exciting, educational and fun experiences.

The Broads Village will be centred around a landscaped lake in the countryside area, and will bring together the many organisations involved in promoting and working in Broadland to exhibit and bring in activities for visitors to enjoy.

The central Broads village activity is the ‘breathing space’ tepee. The title references a Ted Ellis quote, who called the Broads a “breathing space for the cure of souls”, and now used as the tagline for National Parks UK. This will be a place for people to sit down and immerse themselves in the relaxing sights and sounds of the Broads National Park while sipping on a taster of Woodfordes’ Wherry. The tepee will be furnished with beanbags, straw bales and reeds, pipe in bird song and other sounds to a background of rolling imagery.

Visitors will also be able to step back in time on the Broads Authority’s traditional wooden Edwardian launch Liana, which will sit on the lake, and be taken through a virtual commentary of the trip she normally does at the Hoveton Visitor Centre.

There will be a chance to spot Broads minibeasts with pond dipping in our portapond, a marsh tools quiz and a chance to take a selfie as rare Broads wildlife.

Families can also make their own badges and decorative dragonflies and play pin the tail on the pony to promote the Broads Authority’s Pony Power giving scheme (sponsoring a crew of 25 ponies who help maintain various fens around the Broads by grazing them).

Other organisations taking part include: Waveney Stardust, Herbert Woods, Broad Skies Galleries, Broads Society, Wherry Yacht Charter, RSPB, Norfolk Paddle Company, Wild touch, Fly Fishermen, Hunter’s Fleet, Thurne Mill and Tour de Broads Paddle Revolution.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Wroxham island incident - statement from BA Chief Executive

Concerning the fatal incident at Wroxham island yesterday John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, said: "We received a call from a member of the public at 4pm who was also advised to call the police while we mobilised. Two of our rangers were first on scene at 4.20pm and we provided support to the emergency services.

"They transported police officers and paramedics to the private cruiser, advised police on the details of the vessel and closed the river while maintaining access for officers as required throughout the evening.

"The boat was recovered by rangers and the river was reopened at 9.30pm when we were stood down but we will continue to help with any ongoing investigations.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are very much with all those affected by this tragedy.”

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Wroxham island river now re-opened

The river around Wroxham island which was closed by police to investigate a fatal incident is now open again.

Norfolk police were carrying out investigations following the discovery of the deaths of two people and a dog on a boat moored on the island.

No further information is available at this stage. Thoughts of those at the Broads Authority are with all those affected by this tragedy.

River at Wroxham island closed

The stretch of river around Wroxham island has been closed while investigations into an incident take place.

Vessels are being diverted through Wroxham Broad until further notice.

The Broads Authority 24-hour moorings are also currently closed.

An update will be posted when the river is open again.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Jenner's Basin planning dispute - date set for permanent injunction hearing

Solicitors for the Broads Authority have now received written confirmation that a High Court date of 17 June has been set to hear the Authority’s application for a permanent injunction to remedy various planning breaches at Jenner’s Basin, Thorpe Island.

The action is being taken by the Broads Authority against landowner Roger Wood but solicitors acting for the Authority are contacting all those who may be affected. This is the next stage of the legal process after an interim injunction was granted to the Authority in March to halt any further unlawful developments while the permanent injunction hearing date was set.

Save the Island campaigners have previously stated that only four to six of the boats which rent moorings from Mr Wood in Jenner’s Basin and along the riverbank at the western end of the island are being lived on. Other moorings owned by Mr Wood at the eastern end of Thorpe Island are not affected by this action.

The Authority has still not received a planning application for the unlawful developments carried out by the landowner at the site which is in a conservation area. You can read the full background here.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Rare chance to buy traditional Thames launch used by river inspectors

ML Chet in service


A rare opportunity has arisen to purchase a traditional Thames launch as the Broads Authority retires it after 40 years’ service.

The river inspector’s patrol launch is one of the Authority’s last two distinctive Thames launches and has been taken out of service after patrolling the Broads all its life.

The Authority is now accepting sealed bids for Motor Launch Chet, which is 29ft long, has a 7ft beam and is fitted with a 38hp Nanni diesel engine. It is sold with a valid Boat Safety Certificate. The traditional wooden cabins are fitted with a gas hob, grill and a diesel heater.

It has undergone regular refits and its engine has been serviced every 250 hours so its condition for its age is extremely good.

Lorna Marsh, Head of Communications for the Broads Authority, said: “ML Chet has worked hard as a patrol boat for the Broads Authority every day for 40 years and it’s now time for it to retire from Authority service and enter the next phase of its life.

“It’s in fantastic condition and would suit a buyer for work or leisure purposes.”

Ranger Andy Ellson, who has operated the boat for the last year, said the boat might make a good collector purchase and is attractive because of its distinctive looks and interesting background.

Bids will be accepted until 12 noon on Wednesday 25 May 2016. Completed forms should be emailed to finance@broads-authority.gov.uk with the subject line SEALED BID FOR ML Chet.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Authority dismayed at continued distortion of facts by Save the Island campaign

Broads Authority officers have expressed dismay at the continuing misleading and deceitful methods used by the Save the Island Facebook campaign.

In the latest posting self-appointed campaign leader Gary Barnes has misinformed followers by claiming Head of Planning Cally Smith had been “forced to concede” that 43 “eviction notices” were issued in November 2015 in recent correspondence, higher than the campaign’s previously stated number of 41.

The correspondence, reproduced in full here, was in fact instigated by Ms Smith to demonstrate firstly that the paperwork comprised legally required letters before action, not eviction notices, and secondly that only a very small number of residential boats were affected, a fact corroborated by Mr Barnes in recorded meetings with the Broads Authority here. As is clearly evident from the correspondence the remainder related to items such as temporarily moored boats, dinghies and a jet ski.

Letters before action are a legal requirement before an application for an injunction. The Authority was obliged to apply for an injunction because the landowner has for years refused to seek the planning permission that two independent planning inspectors and two high court judges have ruled is required for his development of the land – including the moorings he rents out – in cases he brought to the planning inspectorate and courts himself.

The Authority has obtained an interim injunction while a date is set by the courts for a hearing for the permanent injunction.

The landowner Roger Wood has still not lodged a planning application. Additionally Mr Barnes has refused to apologise to Broads Authority Chairman Jacquie Burgess for smearing her by accusing her of using inappropriate language about the residents of Jenner’s Basin despite failing to produce any evidence of his accusation since he made it last December.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Success for annual open morning

The first Broads Authority annual open morning at Whitlingham attracted scores of people who enjoyed learning about the Broads and how the Authority looks after it.

Families tried pond-dipping, making badges and decorative dragonflies and those interested in the Broads Authority's work looked at stands devoted to practical maintenance, conservation and the new Pony Power scheme.

Members of the public also took the 'shortest guided walk in the world' through a graphic illustration of the Broads to learn about the impact of climate change.

Around a dozen people attended Chief Executive John Packman's first presentation. A second presentation was put on for the two members of the public who turned up to see it along with a few members of the Authority who had not seen the first.

Head of Communications Lorna Marsh said: "Whitlingham was a great place to hold the open morning with so many people coming along. There are a few things we will improve next year to ensure more people know about the presentations and to make the most of the good weather if we get it again."

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Broads Authority annual open morning now part of Outdoors Festival

The Broads Authority’s annual open morning takes place this Saturday, kicking off the 16-day Outdoors Festival.

For the first time this year the event is at Whitlingham Country Park, with fun activities outside and stands in the barn.

The café will be closed for normal service until 2pm but will be serving complimentary refreshments courtesy of Churchill Catering from 10am for those attending.

Chief Executive John Packman said: “You can bring the family along to try pond dipping, badge making, quizzes and other activities and chat to officers and members.

“Stands will include information on conservation, land management, our environment maintenance, planning, climate change, volunteers, education, tourism and of course our rangers.

“This is your chance to learn about what we do and how we look after the Broads and there will be two presentations upstairs in the Barn with an opportunity to ask questions afterwards.”

RSVPs are not required, just turn up on the day from 10am. The event will finish at 1.30pm and the café will be open as soon as possible afterwards.

The Outdoors Festival runs from 7 to 22 May featuring a range of activities and events across the Broads from canoe taster sessions to special mill openings and from guided rail and sail trips to museums at night. Check out the Broads Outdoors Festival website for all the details.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

High court judge rules in support of using Broads National Park brand

By John Packman, Chief Executive

This morning Mr Justice Holgate handed down his judgment on the High Court judicial review into the decision by the Broads Authority in January 2015 to use the term “Broads National Park” when referring to the area as a brand name and for marketing related purposes.

I am really pleased that the Judge has supported the Authority’s decision to use the term Broads National Park in its marketing material, and rejected the judicial review in full.

The Court was asked to consider three grounds of challenge:

(i) the decision was ultra vires (i.e. the Authority did not have the power brand the Broads in this way);

(ii) the Authority had regard to an immaterial consideration, namely that the Habitats Regulations provided the required level of protection for the biodiversity of the Broads against damaging activities; and

(iii) the Authority’s decision was procedurally unfair because of the consultation process.

The claim was dismissed on all three grounds.

This is an important decision for the whole of Norfolk and Suffolk supporting the presence of the Broads in the East of England as the Broads National Park. The use of the term would be not just a welcome boost to the important tourism industry but also helpful to conservation organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB in attracting visitors to their reserves and promoting understanding of the very special wildlife present in the Broads.

Liz Truss, our Secretary of State, has recently published an 8 point National Park Plan which has ambitions to connect young people to nature and using national parks to drive international growth in tourism. Today’s decision will help the Broads Authority deliver its contribution to the Plan.

The Claimants sought leave to appeal the decision and this has been refused. It is hoped this is the end of the matter. However, the Claimants do have 21 days in which to file an appellant’s notice seeking permission to appeal from the Court of Appeal itself. That is entirely a matter for them. In the meantime, the judgment is binding and the Authority can use the term Broads National Park to market the area and encourage local companies and partners to do the same. I will keep you all updated on any further developments. The Broads Authority will continue to call itself as such and has stated that it does not intend to pursue any legal route to change the status of the area or adopt the Sandford Principle.

The Broads Authority has spent around £60,000 on external legal costs defending its decision. This has all been funded from National Park Grant. The time and money defending the Authority’s decision is regretted but in the face of such a challenge necessary and of course the benefits for the area are very significant.

For those who have followed the case or are interested in National Parks the judgment contains some fascinating insights:

  • Para 73: “The starting point must be that the National Park legislation has no legal monopoly over the use of the term “national park”, whether capitalised or not. It is a part of our ordinary language”.
  • Para 74: “However… Parliament itself made the assessment that the qualities of the Broads made it appropriate to impose a legal regime which included the same twin objectives as underpin the National Park code.”
  • Para 87: “No reasonable member of the public would see the use of the words “Broads National Park” in promotional literature as referring to the specific legal regimes governing either the Broads or National Parks in the UK.”
I am advised that the judgment provides no authority for the wider arguments such as London branding itself a national park. The most important part of the judgment in this respect is the reasoning as to why the Authority has not misled the public. This highlights that the key and only point of distinction relied on by the Claimants between the 1949 Parks Act and the Broads is the Sandford Principle, and the judge did not think that the Sandford Principle was integral to people’s understanding of what a national park was.

This has been a team effort. Our Minister, Rory Stewart, defended the Authority’s position in a Westminster Hall debate. We received the backing of all the national park authorities in the UK, all our constituent local authorities and the two Chief Constables. The Authority’s preparation of its case was assisted by David Coleman (ex-Defra and Countryside Commission) who provided expert advice and moral support us through the process. Our thanks also go to Mark Pendlington (Group Director of Anglian Water), Simon Altham (MD of Hoseasons), Julian Roughton (CEO of Suffolk Wildlife Trust), James Berresford (ex CEO of Visit England), Caroline Topping and Hugh Taylor (Mayors of Beccles) and Katie Lawrence (ex Chair of Broads Tourism).

Stephen Johnson and Jacquie Burgess, Chairs of the Broads Authority, played important roles in the drafting of the Consultation Document which was instrumental in the whole process, as did a wide variety of members of staff.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Authority corrects misleading information from Jenner's Basin campaign co-ordinator

The Broads Authority is disappointed to again be in a position of having to address incorrect and misleading information circulated by the co-ordinator of the Save the Island campaign.

Gary Barnes claims that an interim injunction gave permission for boats to stay at Jenner’s Basin and that in serving it the judge, Justice Nicol, directed both sides to resolve the issue by way of a planning application. In fact the purpose of the injunction is precisely that it’s an interim measure to stop any further unlawful development while the Authority seeks a permanent injunction, which was always part of the planned legal process in this dispute around lack of planning permission. Furthermore Justice Nicol categorically did not direct any parties in respect of a planning application as claimed by Mr Barnes, who was not present at the hearing. The injunction wording including Judge Nicol’s directions can be read here.

The dispute has nothing to do with social cleansing, it is quite simply that the landowner Roger Wood does not have planning permission and has so far not sought permission for the development of the site which is in a conservation area including the moorings that he lets out on a commercial basis. Despite several requests Mr Barnes has failed to produce any evidence that the Authority chairman described residential boaters as “feral” or witnesses to this being said. The Authority strenuously refutes this unpleasant accusation.

Another claim by Mr Barnes is that in 2013 Broads Authority officers directed Norwich City Council to issue trespass notices but only to residential boaters in certain areas of Thorpe Island. Mr Barnes alleges this demonstrates social cleansing.

In fact the decision to issue these trespass notices was made by Norwich City Council officers to protect council-owned assets, in this case the riverbed. Notices served on four newly arrived boats at Thorpe Island on the riverbank next to the bridge (two of which subsequently moved and only one was being lived on) were part of a wider distribution by the council which also included areas closer to the city centre including Cow Tower and at Norwich quayside.

Boats at Jenner’s Basin – the only area subject to the Broads Authority planning dispute, which includes some residential boats – were not issued with notices. This is because Norwich City Council does not own the land there. No notices were served on boats moored opposite Thorpe River Green. The fact that boats within Jenner’s Basin and at Thorpe River Green were not included is inconsistent with allegations that residential boats in certain areas were specifically targeted for reasons of social cleansing.

In a letter to Norwich City Councillors Mr Barnes also states that Mr Wood maintains he has the right to moor boats. But Mr Wood has taken the case to two Secretary of State planning inspectors, an appeal court judge and a high court judge who have all ruled he needs planning permission and that he does not have planning permission.

Mr Wood was not reassured by the Broads Authority that planning permission already existed when he investigated buying the site. Advice from the Broads Authority to Mr Wood’s advisor Bill Knight in an email exchange from January 2003 here was quite the opposite.

Save the Island campaigners are on record estimating that between four to six residential boats were and are in the basin and not the 41 which Mr Barnes claimed were served enforcement notices and that these could move to land Mr Wood also owns at the other end of Thorpe Island. It is not the case that houseboats have been moored in the basin since 1922 and aerial photographic records demonstrate the basin as largely empty before Mr Wood bought it with many of the homes opposite the basin preceding Mr Wood’s unlawful developments.

Lastly there is no evidence to suggest that the vast majority of the people of Thorpe St Andrew support the few residential boaters at Jenner’s Basin.

We would request that Mr Barnes desists with his untruthful smear campaign and anyone interested in the issue read the full facts.

You can read the full facts and background here.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Authority breaks dredging target

The Broads Authority has again broken its annual target for dredging, removing more than 50,000 cubic metres of sediment.

The total volume of sediment removed for 2015/16 was 51,435 cubic metres, which equates to a cost-effective £13 approximately a cubic metre for removal, re-handling and reuse.

It is also nearly 3% more than the target in context of a number of other successfully delivered projects.

Rob Rogers, Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment, said: “This may not seem a massive quantity over the projected figure but we also carried out the priority dredging project for Hickling which, despite only involving small volumes, was a large scale operation.

"We also filled the Hill Common erosion areas, removed additional material from Catfield Dyke entrance and maintained a dredging crew on the middle Bure.

“The additional material was only able to be removed due to the efforts of the Construction, Maintenance and Environment teams, who worked well with Broads Environmental Services Ltd and landowners to secure agreements to re-use sediment for floodwall maintenance and restoration of grazing pasture.”

Mr Rogers said that it is often identifying appropriate sediment disposal sites that present the greatest challenge, rather than the dredging itself and appealed to any landowners who may think they have an appropriate site to contact the Broads Authority.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Authority to trial paperless tolls

Broads Authority members today made the bold move to trial a paperless tolls system for the coming season.

The idea to not issue tolls plaques but instead keep all compliance data electronically has been under consideration since the DVLA’s successful move to paperless vehicle tax.

And now the recent issues with ink seepage from this year’s plaques have given the Authority the impetus to carry the initiative out in the 2016/17 tolls season. An evaluation of staff and public impact, toll uptake, cost-effectiveness and efficiency will be undertaken in the autumn before deciding whether to take the new system forward for future seasons.

John Packman, Chief Executive, said: “The recent issues have meant that we are in an unprecedented situation which is not one of our making but one where we need to think more imaginatively. We wanted to treat this as an opportunity to solve the current difficulty and trial a bold but potentially very successful move. It will mean a different way of working and a cultural change to how we do things to make this work but I hope that it will be received very positively.”

An internal discussion and consultation with members of the Navigation Committee, the Broads Hire Boat Federation and the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association took place before members of the Broads Authority were recommended to undertake the trial. Members supported the proposal with only one abstention and no one voting against it.

To ensure toll evasion is kept to a minimum a system is now being developed for rangers to have easy access via a laptop or smartphone to a database of boats that have paid their toll which will be updated on a daily basis and an online system is being looked at for members of the public to access basic information.

Dr Packman said: “Overall this move will save a considerable amount of time for our tolls team and enable them to streamline their processes. We have also sought legal advice and confirmed that this is consistent with the Vessel Registration Byelaws. While there may be some teething issues, we will keep a close eye on how things go and will fully evaluate the new system.”

For those already issued with their 2016/17 tolls plaque the advice is to not fix them to boats. Anyone who has already put one of this season’s plaques on their vessel is advised to remove it.

The tolls team have been working with the print supplier to establish exactly what the cause of the ink seepage is and also what can be done to rectify it but despite numerous tests by the both the printers and the Authority the precise reason is still unknown and therefore a reprint is looking increasingly unworkable. Officers considered supplying plastic covers but there is no certainty that these can be affixed to vessels without causing damage.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Authority successful in its application for interim injunction at Jenner's Basin

The Broads Authority has been granted its request for an interim injunction in relation to Jenner’s Basin after successfully applying to the high court.

The effect of the injunction is to prevent the escalation of planning breaches at the basin before the hearing of the permanent injunction application by the Authority which is likely to be later in the spring.

An interim injunction is a temporary measure to prevent further unlawful development by the landowner while a permanent injunction is sought, the effect of which would be to remedy the existing planning breaches and require the clearance of the site.


For the purposes of full accuracy and clarity here is the interim injunction document issued by the judge.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Broads boaters warned about running ink on tolls plaques

Broads boaters are being advised not to fix toll plaques on their vessels while the Broads Authority urgently investigates an issue with running ink.

A very small number of reports about ink running from the plaques when they get wet onto vessel hulls has come in and as soon as the Authority was aware of the issue it called an immediate meeting with its print supplier to try and find a solution.

The supplier, which the Authority has used for 20 years with no previous issues, is now testing the efficacy of various solutions for the plaques already sent out by the Authority, including additional waterproofing. It is also investigating the cause, believed to be related to the waterproofing additive in the ink, to avoid the same problem in future.

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, said: “We sincerely regret that this has been an issue for a small number of boaters and, until further notice while investigations are ongoing, are advising people not to fix their plaques to their vessels but to keep them on board ready in case they need to be produced.

“We will be writing to every boater who has already been sent a plaque to ensure they are aware of this advice and we will keep boaters updated on progress through our usual channels.”

Friday, 26 February 2016

Save the Island campaign - statement from Navigation Committee Vice Chairman Nicky Talbot


Nicky Talbot, Vice Chairman of the Broads Authority Navigation Committee, has moved to publicly refute a claim fabricated by Gary Barnes on the Save the Island Facebook page that she is a supporter of his campaign.

Mrs Talbot said: “The claim that I am a supporter of the Save the Island campaign, made by Gary Barnes on the campaign’s Facebook page, is simply not true. It is disturbing that Mr Barnes continues to misrepresent the truth and this demonstrates the underhand tactics he is using to further his campaign.”

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Jenner's Basin latest

To help clarify misinformation which continues around the planning dispute at Jenner’s Basin we have reproduced the reply from Broads Authority Chief Executive John Packman to the Save the Island campaign concerning the appointment of Murray Gray to the planning committee and set out the current situation.

The reply concerning Dr Gray includes the Defra response to a similar query a year ago. Defra looked into the matter then and ruled that Dr Gray’s appointment was not unlawful and that to terminate his membership in light of new government policy would be “inappropriate”. Furthermore the original enforcement notice in relation to Jenner's Basin was served before Dr Gray's reappointment to a second term.

We continue to be disappointed at the distortion of truth by leaders of the Save the Island campaign around this matter and trust that anyone considering lending support to the campaign will take the full picture into account.

A representative from the campaign also indicated that the four to six residential boats in Jenner's Basin could be accommodated at the land Mr Wood also owns at the eastern end of the island, which is not subject to the dispute or action. Further details are below.

Reply to campaign leader concerning Murray Gray


The reply from Mr Packman stated:

“Further to your emails to Professor Burgess and Dr Gray can I set out for you the response from Defra a year ago to a previous enquiry on the subject of Dr Gray's reappointment to the Broads Authority.

Defra response: ‘Dr Murray Gray was appointed to the Broads Authority by the Secretary of State on 1 June 2008 for a four-year term and was re-appointed to the Broads Authority by the Secretary of State on 1 April 2012 for a further four-year term which will expire on 31 March 2016. He was a serving councillor when appointed in 2008 and when reappointed in 2012.

‘The English National Parks and the Broads UK Government Vision and Circular 2010, a statement of Government policy, was issued in March 2010 and provided updated policy guidance on the English National Parks and the Broads. The circular directs that “the Secretary of State does not propose to appoint as a Secretary of State member anyone who is a serving councillor of a local authority appointing members to the Authority.” The Circular is a statement of Government policy and is not law. Dr Gray is therefore not barred as a matter of law. In addition, the policy did not state that the Secretary of State would revoke the membership of anyone appointed in contravention of it.

‘Dr Gray did not mislead the Secretary of State at the time of his reappointment by concealing his Councillor status. The Secretary of State is therefore bound to consider what is most appropriate in the circumstances. In this instance, the Secretary of State has concluded that it would be inappropriate to have his membership terminated.’

Current situation


We had looked at possible options to resolve the situation and this included submitting a planning application following the independent Planning Inspector’s decision in 2014. This was to allow mooring for 25 boats with certain conditions being met around elements such as landscaping, parking and access. It was made clear that any decision would ultimately rest with members however.
In the second meeting the landowner Roger Wood indicated he would be willing to submit such an application and allow the proper process to take its course so the right decision could be made. While we are not obliged to entertain an application during a live enforcement, we would encourage this and provide support and advice.

However we have received legal advice concerning issues in ignoring our duty to carry out the enforcement which is now live after Mr Wood’s action at the Court of Appeal was unsuccessful and which other Thorpe residents expect us to carry out. We have also been advised that we are unable to contribute money to any individual’s planning application costs or allow development outside the remit of the independent Planning Inspector’s decision.

The Jenner’s Basin residents have indicated that they will continue their campaign in light of this. We will however support and advise Mr Wood who stated he was willing to move forward with an application and look at ways of complying with the enforcement notice in the meantime.

A representative from the campaign also indicated that the four to six residential boats in Jenner's Basin could be accommodated at the land Mr Wood also owns at the eastern end of the island, which is not subject to the dispute or action, at the second of the recorded meetings with the Broads Authority. (Numbers of boats are discussed in the first meeting from 9m 58s and accommodation at the eastern end of the island is discussed in the second meeting from 47m)