Saving the special place

PUBLISHED: 06:45 02 June 2014

Broads Authority, May, EDP Norfolk

Broads Authority, May, EDP Norfolk

© Copyright Mike Page. All rights reserved. Before any use is made of this picture including display, publication, broadcast ,s

The Broads was recognised as a very special landscape in the 1930s and worthy for designation as a National Park. Because of concerns about costs and the complexity of the area it wasn’t included in the first round of national parks in 1950s and it wasn’t until 1989 that the Broads was given an equivalent status.

Broads Authority, May, EDP NorfolkBroads Authority, May, EDP Norfolk

In the meantime pollution, particularly from sewage treatment works, led to a dramatic reduction in water quality, a loss of water plants, birds and animals – the Broads was dying.

Anyone who has been out in the Broads in recent times will have seen the dramatic improvements resulting from the authority’s work over the past 25 years. Water quality is hugely improved with the result that plants and wildlife that had been lost have returned. As a result, marsh harriers are relatively common and the fens support rarities such as the bittern, marsh orchid and swallowtail butterfly in greater numbers.

During the past 25 years the authority has also done much to improve the area for boaters. There are now 63 free, high quality and safe moorings and an efficient dredging operation using innovative techniques to keep the system from silting up. We’ve greatly improved safety as a result of the Private Bill in 2009 and the authority has taken responsibility for Breydon Water, the most challenging part of the system for a novice boater.

In recent years, my wife and I have been systematically canoeing the whole length of the 125 miles of navigable water. We have a two-person kayak and our dogs sit in the middle, watching everything that moves. In the upper reaches of the River Waveney we struggled when it was very shallow but our efforts were rewarded by brilliant blue flashes of a kingfisher flying ahead of us. The Broads goes right up into the centre of Norwich and I remember a Sunday canoe trip being enhanced by a full Sunday roast at a riverside pub.

The Broads is a very special place, providing something for everyone. Part of the Broads Authority’s continuing role is both to protect the special qualities for future generations and open the eyes of visitors and local people in particular to what is on their doorstep.

Making it happen

The Broads Authority was set up in 1989 by Act of Parliament to conserve and manage the Broads - before then it was run by a conglomeration of local authorities and nature organisations while the waterways were managed by the Great Yarmouth Port and Haven Commissioners.

Over the past quarter of a century there have been dramatic improvements in water quality in the Broads, and the Broads Authority has gained an international reputation for its work in managing a wetland habitat. It has become a pioneer in the research and development of the management of reed beds, the restoration of shallow lakes and the promotion of sustainable tourism.

The beauty of the Broads

The story of that most special part of our county, the Norfolk Broads, is told in fascinating features and fabulous photography in a special publication from Archant, publishers of EDP Norfolk magazine.

The Norfolk Broads, Our heritage, our future – a unique perspective is a limited edition magazine, produced in association with Richardson’s Boating Holidays, and will be on sale from May, priced £7.95.

Make sure you don’t miss out on your copy by pre-ordering it now at

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the EDP Norfolk Magazine