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)
Maximum water depth (m)
Average plant height (m)
Maximum plant height (m)
Area of broad covered by plants >8 cm (%)
Plants as % of water volume (PVI) (%)
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.