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)

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

World Wetlands Day – A New Vision for Hickling

As World Wetlands Day is celebrated today, work gets underway to repair reed habitats on iconic Hickling Broad as part of a new vision to enhance the broad for wildlife and water users.

And the full vision, which was originally developed with the Upper Thurne Working Group and has been agreed by partner organisations and stakeholders, will be delivered through a long term project if funding can be secured.

In the meantime the Broads Authority is creating new reed islands and restoring a sensitive and badly eroded reed margin habitat using novel geotextiles and engineering techniques. And the project is helping to keep access to local facilities, including the boatyard, pub and the Hickling Sailing Club by dredging 3,500 cubic metres from the marked channel this winter.

Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods was selected as the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2016 to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity and their relevance to sustainable development.

Andrea Kelly, Senior Ecologist said the Hickling project linked in well with this theme, offering benefits for people, wildlife and the local economy.

She said: “This project is a win-win for wetland wildlife and the people who enjoy it as well as the businesses around the River Thurne area of the Broads that depend on the careful management of Hickling.”

Working with conservation partners, including the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency and local landowners the aspirations for the Hickling Broad long-term vision are:

• improved waterway depths

• improved aquatic environment in sheltered bays providing more reed bed areas, better water quality, water plants and higher numbers of water birds

• beneficial reuse of dredged material in island construction and bank restoration

• improved understanding by local communities, visitors and partners of the importance of undertaking integrated waterway management projects to enhance the special qualities of the Broads.

The island creation around Duck Broad, built using EU funding, is growing healthy green growth of reed and reed mace and is giving further shelter and refuge to over wintering migratory birds in Duck Broad.

“This is important as wild birds are prone to disturbance from passing boats,” said Ms Kelly. “The Broads is an internationally important wetland and a stop-over for site for hundreds of thousands of water birds.”

Birds such as teal, turfed duck gadwall and widgeon come in winter to congregate in the UK’s wetlands. Of these, many are from the continent from such places as Siberia and Scandinavia, as well as from places such as Iceland.

Ms Kelly said: “At this time, the UK is home to a significant percentage of some of the NW European wintering bird populations, meaning we have an international duty to create quiet refuges for birds.

“Furthermore nationally rare water plants have their home in the Upper Thurne system. Intermediate stonewort occurs only here in the UK, so the survival of this species depends on us. Water plant growth, both in the summer and winter, are attracting more birds over the past few years, such as swan, coot and tufted duck.”

A great way to see Hickling is via a Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) boat trip, these trips give you access to the hidden corners of the National Nature Reserve. Alternatively the NWT reserve, provides newly created excellent views from the north by land. The Weaver’s Way, one of Norfolk’s long distance footpath trails, passes along the south side of the broad.


World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat provides outreach materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.

Hickling covers 1.4 km², making it the biggest broad and one of the largest expanses of open water in East Anglia.

Over the years it has got a bit bigger as a result of a combination of factors such as coypu and more recently feral greylag geese grazing the reed and speeding up bank erosion. But it has also become slightly shallower due to this eroded material and build-up of dead algae.

One of the major constraints to working in Hickling Broad is Prymnesium parvum, a microscopic algae that is naturally present in the broad and throughout the Upper Thurne. On occasions this algae can release a toxin that is deadly to fish. Any work in this area needs to be carefully designed to monitor on Prymnesium levels and protect fish health.