NSBA Reply to DEFRA Consultation

HEAVY-HANDED LEGISLATION COULD RUIN THE BROADS

Insensitive application of statutory powers could damage the whole social and economic fabric of the Broads, says the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association (NSBA), in a submission to the Department of Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) on its consultation on the future management of National Parks and the Broads.

NSBA, which represents private boat owners and toll-payers on the Broads, says a reduction in the number of those using the Broads would impact on the infrastructure and lead to a reduction in the potential income to both the Broads Authority (BA) and the local economy from visiting boat-hirers and owners.

Defra is seeking to update Government policy on dealing with climate change, conservation and enhance of the landscape and natural heritage, securing maximum value for money from funding and, fostering biodiversity, within National Parks and the Broads. Public bodies would be seen as acting unreasonably if they ignored it and/or acted differently without good reasons for doing so.

NSBA vice-Chairman Richard Card said: “The economic infrastructure of the Broads is not a matter simply of local concern because it (particularly boat building and repair) supports a significant turnover of work for other areas of the UK and for the export industry. It is therefore an added responsibility for the Broads Authority to safeguard this in the interests of the national economy as a whole.”

Without adequate income the BA would not be able to maintain the navigation area, to the consequent detriment of the Broads system.

“Without the essential dredging work, for example, the system would gradually become unusable for navigation; the income derived from it by local businesses would dramatically shrink and the wildlife associated with the waterways would reduce in variety and number,” he said.

The Broads are a fragile eco-system. Even a temporary incursion of flooding by the sea would affect their biodiversity for years. Difficult, radical decisions had to be made, and the necessary funding secured to protect the future. Other national waterways receive considerable grant funding from central government, and toll payers should not foot the entire bill.

“We welcome the statement that Defra will discuss with the BA whether some additional funding should be incorporated in the Authority’s grant baseline for future years, but we would urge that the question is not ‘should it’ but ‘how much’ and ask ‘will it be ring-fenced for use in respect of the navigable waters?”

He also called for the restoration of public staithes, something that the Broads Authority had sadly neglected.

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