The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded Natural England (NE) just under £2 million pounds for a project to improve water quality in Hoveton Great Broad (HGB) whose ecological condition has been neglected for over a century.
The HLF grant was awarded despite the opposition of the NSBA and others. The detailed reasons for the NSBA’s opposition were communicated to the HLF and NE on a number of occasions, alas without success. NE told HLF that opposition to the project was on the part of ‘a small vocal minority’. As indicated in the NSBA Newsletter and elsewhere, the objections to the public funding of the HGB project via HLF funding have the following basis.
HGB was closed to public use in around 1890 by the landowner. Up till then it had been open to navigation. There remains a question mark over this action because the Broad was and remains tidal, a fact admitted by NE. Tidal waters should be open to navigation. This large expenditure of public money for private benefit resulted in calls for access to the Broad to be opened up. The only access which the project will provide will be a privately run, guided, commercial canoe trail along drainage dykes in the nearby marshes at limited times. The proposed trail will culminate in a short boardwalk and viewing platform on the bank of HGB. This falls far short of adequate public access by boat to HGB. The NSBA considers that the expenditure of just under £2 million of public money merits greater opportunity for the public to enjoy the benefits of their investment.
An online petition has been started to urge the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to apply pressure to the HLF to require access as a precondition to funding: Click here for the link