September 26, 2020

Bridge update from the Broads Authority

August 27, 20201

Broads Authority Statement

The below statement has been issued by the Broads Authority regarding closures and repairs to bridges in the Norfolk and Suffolk area.

Acle Bridge

After several months of work and delays with our contractors due to lockdown, the moorings and path at our Acle Bridge site are now open for use. The toilets, car park and café remain closed, and waste bins are currently being provided. Please note and adhere to the temporary signage and fencing in place at the site. During autumn, we will seed a large area of riverside grass and install more permanent fencing to improve the appearance of the site, until then the site is predominantly open for moorings and basic access to the footpath.

 Acle Bridge moorings with temporary fencing in place. Photo credit: Broads Authority

Reedham & Somerleyton Bridges

These two Victorian Swing Bridges are owned and operated by Network Rail. The summer heat always brings issue to their operational ability when the air temperatures rises to above 26 degrees. As the temperatures rises the cast iron structures expand, jamming the opening mechanism in place. Reedham Swing Bridge is positioned as such that it can be cooled by the prevailing wind/breeze and this swing bridge suffers less through heat expansion. This year Somerleyton air temperature reached 41 degrees.

Network Rail have carried out extensive maintenance to these structures, new sensors have been fitted to make the operating tolerances less, meaning better opening and closing. Short expansion rails are fitted to allow the track to expand in higher temperatures but still allowing bridge openings. And during the hottest days a full Network Rail Structural Team were brought in to observe the bridges as they expanded so that design aspects can be fitted to counteract this and bring better operational performance. It is hoped that this design work will be completed soon and a scheduled devised to retro fit this to the structures.

Lastly, these old bridges do suffer occasionally from mechanical issues, but these are decreasing as we have been able to negotiate better response times from Network Rail. Although one of the bridge failures was due to ECU boxes (fitted on the track to upgrade the signals system) melting in the summer heat. NR took this issue up with their contractors to rectify.

Closure of the rail bridge at Mutford Lock

Mutford lock is a Broads Authority structure and has been fully operational throughout summer, apart from a days when we undertook repairs to coincide with repair to the Road Bridge.

Oulton Broad Rail Bridge has had structural issues, again this rail swing bridge is operated by Network Rail, Due to a issue with the lowering rams and locking pins being damaged, Network Rail needed to fabricate new parts from scratch as ‘off the shelf’ parts are not available for this bridge. These parts and getting them fixed took a few weeks. Upon having the new parts fitted, NR Engineers found that the bridge did not lock shut in the correct alignment. It is currently operational but NR need 24 hour notice of an opening so the Engineers can be on site to facilitate the opening and closing. This will continue until a fix for the alignment has taken place.

Problems at the Town Bridge in Yarmouth

Haven Bridge is operated and maintained by Norfolk County Council and is a road bridge. At a recent inspection the HSE condemned the electrics and sealed off the control room as the site was unsafe for entry. NCC are instigating a repair, but until it is done the bridge is not being opened by NCC for fear that is could get stuck open and cause road traffic congestion. (the manual closing mechanism is housed in the control room where the condemned electric have been sealed off).In summary we have been plagued with a series of bridge failures and heat related situations. The Broads Authority has open dialogue with the various operators and keeps the pressure on them to find solutions and remedies to ensure bridge operations are maintained. Budget restrictions, C19 mitigations and an aging infrastructure have all played a part.We share the frustrations many of the boating community have due to inoperable bridges and through open dialogue and collaboration we are slowly bringing changes, but these structures are not the Broads Authority’s responsibility and getting 3rd party organisations to recognise their importance and to prioritise expenditure is ongoing.

If you have any queries regarding bridges in the Norfolk and Suffolk area, please visit the Broads Authority website. Alternatively, if you are a member of the RYA and require further assistance, please email the Cruising team cruising@rya.org.uk.

September 25, 2020

Flood Alert – 25 September 2020

I am passing on the below flood alert for your awareness – anecdotal reports suggest localised flooding is already affecting roads, paths and settlements in the Broads area.
The Environment Agency has notified that there is a flood alert in place along the tidal River Yare from Thorpe St Andrew to Breydon Water. Flooding is possible for the tidal River Yare, from Thorpe St Andrew to Breydon Water including Brundall, Cantley, Reedham and Burgh Castle. This message has been issued because there is a possibility of some minor flooding to riverside roads and footpaths tomorrow morning, Saturday 26 September 2020. Current forecasts predict water levels will peak around Brundall at 07:45 am tomorrow morning. High water levels may last for a few days until the high tides at Great Yarmouth have passed. High water levels may also be observed on Sunday 27 September. Please take care on waterside roads and footpaths and don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. Take into account the water levels whilst mooring up and remember to call Broads Control on 01603 756056 if you require assistance. The Environment Agency are monitoring the situation and will issue further advice if there are any additional updates.  See flood alert: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/target-area/054WATBT2

September 25, 2020

Breydon Water – 25 September 2020

Breydon Water is currently closed to hire craft due to adverse weather conditions.

Please note that winds in excess of 50mph are forecast across the Broads, so please be aware of this whilst making plans to travel today.

September 17, 2020

NSBA’s General Purposes Committee on-line meeting of Tuesday 1 September 2020

Navigation Committee

NSBA to raise the following issues with BA’s NavCom, by letter beforehand and with an attending observer:–

  • Acle Bridge and the potential use of the BA’s Capital Reserves for which there are concerns over the split of funding between National Parks Grant (60%) and Navigation Fees Income (40%);  car parks and café should be funded outside of Navigation moneys;
  • Mutford lock closure during high season was deplored;
  • Likewise Scare Gap demasting mooring also subject to maintenance during high season

A rota of attendee representatives from NSBA at NavCom to be drawn up.

Communicator Role

The search for a candidate for the ‘Communicator’ position has been difficult, however a recent strong application is being processed.  A new appointment should see significant and earliest improvement of our website and links to social media.

Hoveton Great Broad

Associated issues remain of great concern for lack of boating access and synthetic barriers to fish movement.  As a known fish breeding ground, the fishing fraternity is taking a very strong stance and this should be actively supported, also with letters to prominent decision makers.

Bridges

Programmes of planned work on railway bridges over the next three winters has been circulated and recognised for the focus on lowest boating season;  this is a welcome outcome of NSBA’s direct liaison with Network Rail.

The existing outline plan for Trowse railway swing-bridge to be replaced with a fixed span is recognised to include a compensatory new marina downstream with according communication links to the city centre (footpath, cycleway, taxi and bus rank);  within some environments this part of the plan has been lost or softened and this must be reinforced at every conceivable opportunity.

Tolls

Canoes, kayaks and SUPs (light craft) are perceived easily to fall between gaps in the Tolls structure.  The perception is that owners of sailing craft and motorboats effectively subsidise use of the waterways by some light craft users;  there may be some inequality between members of British Canoeing who do not have to register their light craft with the BA for use on the Broads or pay tolls or display registration marks, and other users.  Marking and/or recording of toll compliance needs an overhaul such that non-compliant users can easily and quickly be identified.

Spot-Plot-Report-Record

Merchant Navy Association Boat Club (MNABC) has introduced a system of coastal Spot-Plot-Report-Record which is being trialed in East Anglia as an inland activity.  This scheme should be supported strongly and encouraged particularly amongst the motor-boating community who may often have a better ad-hoc platform from which to report.  Reports of incidents can be made to the Coastguard and in the case of The Broads to Broads Control, however, additionally NSBA would welcome all information as supporting data for identifying recurring hot spots or issues.

Committee Duties

There are many liaisons with other bodies which NSBA carries out and hence areas of responsibility rightly need to be shared amongst our volunteer committee;  each member will take on an area of special interest and act as the focal point in representing NSBA.

Other reports

Infrastructure Projects –  Lowestoft 3rd Crossing (approved) and Gt.Yarmouth 3rd Crossing (under consideration).

Whelpton Trophy -for deserving international/national racing achievement is held in abeyance for 2020.

Bridges Works – Simultaneous Works at Gt.Yarmouth and at Oulton Broad have locked access between the Broads and the North Sea;  on occasion this has included Works at Somerleyton and Mutford swing bridges;  there must be greater liaison between operators and some system of coordination introduced for which either NSBA or BA are well placed.

Haven Bridge – is out of action following an HSE cessation notice.  There have been group discussions between the owner (Norfolk County Highways), the operator (PeelPorts), the Broads Authority and affected boaters and commercial plaintiffs.  Some delegate organisations appear not fully to recognise that legally by Statute the navigation has priority,  even to the extent that Solicitor opinion has suggested that water users do not have rights to the navigation,  also therewith not involving appropriate level of strategic personnel;  this must be addressed and if necessary call upon RYA(legal) to bear pressure.

Peto’s Marsh  – at Carlton Nature Reserve is to get a new pontoon access for boaters along Oulton Dyke;  while this will be funded out of navigation income, it is fully recognised that the payback of accessible spoil dumping into an area of the marsh from dredgings creates a win for all parties;  effectively a spend-to-save by the BA.  NSBA’s representation on positioning of the new pontoon (with input from sailing club and commercial river users) has been taken positively.

Broads Authority Budgets – following NSBA’s representation regarding the manner in which dredging forecast budget and in-year spend outturn are reported, any mismatch of included items will be scrutinised and mitigated at BA.

Glover – the Government’s response to the Glover investigation into Landscape usage and supporting funding is expected during autumn 2020 (subject to Covid delays).  NSBA will doubtless have some issues to raise and needs to investigate the feedback opportunities.

The Green Book 2021 –  was discussed as to how much edit and renewal there might be following this 2020 Covid year.  While boating on the Broads has been significantly affected, it was felt that there remained sufficient scope to continue with normal editorial process and introduce new material as appropriate.  Further key issues are to be debated amongst the committee by email as well as the annual Fixtures Meeting perhaps being held on-line.  Clubs use of their own dedicated spaces within NSBA’s website needs to be promulgated to key club personnel.

Meetings

Following considerable issue with individuals’ access to the online platform for conducting this meeting it was felt that a timely in-person meeting would be welcome;  a suitable venue to be sought which can accommodate social distancing for the committee.

This also raised the question over what form the 2020 AGM should take if it takes place;  it was suggested that a suitable venue for social distancing be appropriate, in conjunction with an online facility for those who felt apprehensive about attendance but nevertheless wished for inclusion.

Date of next meeting

Monday 19 October 2020

September 15, 2020

URGENT BOATING NEWS

Please note that the Broads Authority have issued the following message dated Monday 14 September at 4.30 pm

Urgent Boating News – Somerleyton Bridge is currently unable to swing due to heat.

Kind Regards

Laura Milner

Administrative Officer Operations

Broads Authority

Please note my current working days are Tuesday to Friday

Broads Authority, Yare House, 62-64 Thorpe Road. Norwich NR1 1RY
01603 610734
www.broads-authority.gov.uk

September 4, 2020

September 4, 2020

Hoveton Great Broad

Hoveton Great Broad and Hudson’s Bay (HGB/HB) were unlawfully closed to navigation 130 years ago.  In 2014, the NSBA objected to Heritage Lottery funding of the restoration, including dredging (see under ‘Campaigns’ on this website) because they did not include plans to reopen HGB/HB to public navigation.  Members who have passed by HGB/HB along the River Bure will have seen the gates barring entry.  The necessary planning permission for the restoration work, granted in 2014, required temporary fish barriers to be removed by the end of 10 years after their installation.  The restoration has now got to the point where the barriers are to be installed.  By a variation in 2016 of the planning permission, the barriers involve timber posts and mesh screens in place of the original specification involving gabions of stones (to which NSBA objected).  NSBA will press for the removal of the barriers when the time comes and will continue to press for the opening of HGB/HB to public navigation when the restoration is complete.

Local anglers are now campaigning against the use of barriers to clear the waters involved with evidence to show how fish stocks, particularly bream, will be depleted throughout the Broads when this happens. Angling throughout the Broads will be reduced. Anglers have set up a petition to which you may wish to add your name. For information go to

https://basg.online/hoveton-petition-launched-to-save-our-fish-stocks

May 18, 2020

Return to Sailing

There is much talked about return to sailing with much uncertainty.

In outline presently, all watersports are sanctioned, however do take care and as always do conduct your own pre-assessment:-

• Control-the-Controllable (the person; the equipment).

• Have regard to other issues (the wind; the weather; the environment).

•• However do consider the present need for Social-Distancing.

So for example, … don’t go out if there is absolutely no-one to call for help, but do adhere to distancing advice.

.

Presently and following RYA advice and from a Special-Interest-Group (SIG, hyper-link for much further useful information), we are Not advocating Organised sailing and Club-Houses should remain closed (c.f. pubs & clubs” where it is difficult to conduct distancing); even club toilets could be contentious! Travel to your club in kit, or be prepared to change in-the-car. Casual sailing is encouraged, as are say, simple one-on-one racing challenges, but of course this applies to single-handed sailing and Not for social gatherings in the same vessel (e.g. helm-&-crew) unless from the same household.

Amongst inland waterways in England, The Broads are in an advantageous position with DEFRA formally recognising that the Broads Authority is able and indeed needs to open The Broads in a way which is not necessarily reflected on canals or privately owned reservoirs.

Below is a Very, very approximate ‘Road-Map’ to guide thinking:–

Clubs might start to consider their very gradual step out of restrictions starting perhaps for next month or later, depending on Government advice at that time. As one looks further into the future any now-advice has to be treated with greater uncertainty and circumspection.

Stay Safe, Follow Government Advice, and enjoy a return to sailing

April 6, 2020

Spring Newsletter 2020

April 4, 2020

Covid-19 Issues, Advice … … and general NSBA-updates

This is not the year we all planned into our boating diaries.
Both this last weekend 4/5-April, and this week following look particularly inviting to get out onto the water, but please follow Central Government advice and,

                      “Stay-at-Home” !

Very recently there has been some churning of issues as regards fallout from coronavirus advice; both Broads-Beat (Police) and Broads-Control (Broads Authority) have been inundated with public calls about hire craft being out and about;  actually these referred to multiple sightings of the same single person hiring a fortnight out of Wroxham before lock-down, who traversed to the southern Broads, kept himself-to-himself,  but who was expected home this coming weekend.

Presently NSBA does not encourage travelling to and from marinas or moorings, and taking to the water should not happen until such time as Central Government has reassessed the Covid situation.

Where craft are in a marina or lie close together at recognised moorings and where a mutually supportive rota has been established for checking on craft, the rota should now include locals who can walk to the site,  but probably not to include travellers from perhaps as far afield as Norwich !
While it might appear to some that getting out onto the water is potentially a very social-distancing activity, it is potential fallout which could become an issue; emergency support if called upon, may itself be put in health-jeopardy and travel to/from the boat is potentially at variance with advice;  it sends the ‘wrong’ message of irresponsibility to onlookers.
During recent Government briefing it was explicitly stated that, “… travel to second homes [ as boats might be described ] is not sanctioned …”.

Yacht Station at Norwich is closed, and those at Reedham and at Gt.Yarmouth have been opened, this being,  “… for safety purposes of liveaboarders who need to access shoreside for vital services …”;   if traffic is perceived as minimal (being reviewed weekly), then both of these will close again shortly.

Tolls is another major current issue being the source of much rumour:
It is quite untrue that Hire Craft are not being asked to pay;  the situation being that hire boats that are not being used and are effectively in storage in their own yards, do not incur a toll and if craft remain ashore then tolls are not payable, but as soon as they go afloat for hire the toll once again becomes due (and indeed at potentially a higher short-term rate).
Broads Authority has published its information [hyper-linked] and while there may very well be frustrations that private owners have in not being able to use their vessels, the Broads Authority is prepared to give careful consideration to exceptional circumstances of financial concerns for boaters unable to meet their commitments.

Having been in discussion with Broads Authority it is quite clear that BA is keenly aware of critical impact on its Tolls income due both to reduced tourism and hirings and to private owners potentially not launching for the whole season. With this in mind BA has already made application to DEFRA for special consideration for critical minimum additional funding;  NSBA has been asked by boaters whether to expect Tolls support and in this respect it is felt that NSBA should primarily support BA’s case rather than drive a separate distraction which might be seen as trying, “to burn the candle at both ends”. It would best benefit boaters if most can be made of one principal line of bidding to ensure that the Navigation Budget remains viable beyond July.

NSBA General Purposes Committee took a tough decision at short notice in cancelling the recently scheduled Flag Officers’ Event,  but that does not mean that we’ve stopped doing other ‘stuff’.

NSBA is actively in direct contact with Network Rail regarding their proposed programmes of renovation work on the Swing-Bridges, this being scheduled between Oct-2021 and Mar-2024 through those three successive winters.
NSBA is now also a front-line consultee regarding potential mitigation during any proposed closure by Network Rail as unfortunately happened during the last Christmas holiday period.
  Haven Bridge at Gt.Yarmouth has its problems and NSBA forwarded complaints through RYA (East Region) to the RYA(HQ) legal support desk to apply pressure on ‘Highways’.
NSBA was particularly active with RYA through the last 6-months of Inspection of the Gt.Yarmouth Third River Crossing project. We were able to make representations and were involved in a hazard identification workshop. We have gained some potential benefits for boaters and feel that our involvement has been valuable.

NSBA understands the significant impact that the coronavirus is having on many people both in terms of their own and their family’s health and livelihoods, as well as with disrupted leisure plans in general.
As much as we love boating on The Broads, we need to be sensible and pragmatic about what is possible. The Committee will be reviewing the season and revising its plans and responses in the context of the potentially devastating effect this disease may have on activities and our communities.

NSBA also recognise that once this crisis is over, organising future events will not be a top priority for everyone, or easy, and that there will be long term economic and travel difficulties for everyone.
However NSBA is standing by to swiftly adjust schedules and reorganise its events in a responsible way, with a considered approach to take into account everyone’s safety and well-being.

Finally, and above all,  please recognise the three words of,  “Stay at Home”.
If you are eventually able to go boating, please remember that initially it may be not yet be classed as a social event, but simply a time for personal exercise only, like going for a run or a cycle-ride (this is not yet the case, but looking into possibilities for the future while we await further instructions or advice).

For the short-term do,    Stay at Home !

Stay safe and wash your hands … and we’ll meet again once it is all over.

Chair, NSBA