Monday, 31 March 2008

Stark new warning for Broads

Baroness Young, the head of the Environment Agency, says sooner or later the Broads will be lost to climate change.

The catastrophe could take up to a century to arrive - or it could be as little as a year, the Telegraph reports tonight.

The stark warning comes as the number of people signed up to an online Save The Broads petition on Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street website nudges 500.

Click here to read the latest reports in full.

Click here to sign the petition.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Save the Broads petition nudges 400

Nearly 400 people have now signed up to the PAC's Save the Broads petition.

We're campaigning against proposals to abandon coastal defences on the Norfolk coast, which would allow the Upper Thurne system and its historically-important pike fisheries to be flooded by the sea.

Hickling Broad, Horsey Mere, Heigham Sound and the Martham broads would be lost forever - along with six villages and thousands of acres of farmland.

Some interesting comments have been left on The Times newspaper's website, in response to a story detailing the plans today.

Pat Gowen, from the Norwich-based Marine Environmental Information Network, says: "Over the past 18 years the government has benefited by over £1.6 billion from the royalties and VAT provided from the 189 million tons of sand and shingle dredged from off the Great Yarmouth coastline alone.

"This is far more than enough to pay for the total protection of the entire UK coastline as well as providing compensation for those who have lost and are losing their properties and living because of the erosion resulting from this damaging commercial exploitive process.

"Over thirty per cent of the aggregate dredged off our coast has been exported to Holland, where such dredging is banned due to the erosion and fishing losses brought about were it so permitted.

"So why should the best part of Norfolk be abandoned ?"

Kevin Langley, from Ely, adds: "Well done the Pike Anglers club, 30 years of fighting for pike anglers and the fish they value, a club that cares about the environment."

To sign the petition, click here.

Daily Mail reports on threat to Broads

To read the report in today's Daily Mail, click here.

To sign the petition to save the Broads, click here.

Shaken, but not flooded... yet...

"If the people of Happisburgh have demonstrated one thing, it is that unless you stand up and shout loudly enough and over a long enough period of time, there is every likelihood you will be ignored," the Yarmouth Mercury observes today.

It goes on: "Whether that lesson will be learned by the thousands of people who could be affected, made homeless even, by a proposal to allow the North Sea to flood 6,500 hectares of Norfolk, remains to be seen."

Both the Mercury and EDP feature stunned reaction from villagers whose first inkling their homes could be lost as coastal defences are abandoned to the sea was when they read it in the papers.

Click here to read the Mercury report.

One organisation - the Pike Anglers Club - has launched an online petition against the proposals on Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street website.

Click here to sign it, if you want to stand up and shout.

Secret Broads plan leaked to papers

Reports discussed at a secret meeting which recommended allowing some of Norfolk's finest fisheries to be flooded by the sea have been leaked to local papers.

Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority met last month for talks on the future of the Upper Thurne and its broads.

They decided the sea should be allowed to breach coastal defences, flooding Hickling Broad, Horsey Mere, Heigham Sound and the Martham broads.

As the story hit the national media, officials claimed the plan was just one of four options under consideration.

A report in the Lowestoft Journal newspaper, said to be quoting from a leaked copy of the plan, claimed:

"The first option listed is to do nothing to adapt to climate change: to fail to maintain coastal defences and inland flood embankments, allowing them to fall into disrepair and be breached by the River Thurne and the sea.

"The second is to hold the line, the current policy of the Environment Agency. This involves maintaining the sea defences and flood embankments in their current positions. Under this option, saline intrusion - something all farmers fear - would get worse as sea water passes under the coastal dunes.

"The third option is to adapt the line: allow the sea to flood some places while building barriers and embankments to protect other parts.

"The fourth and final option is the most radical of all, and is described as the “embayment of the Upper Thurne”. Once the sea has penetrated existing coastal defences between Horsey and Winterton, the area immediately behind would flood as far as two “retreated defences” - think of them as sea walls, or even dams - built at Potter Heigham and Stalham."

Nearly 300 people have signed an online petition set up by the Pike Anglers Club, which has campaigned to protect the pike and pike fishing for more than 30 years.

As well as fisheries which have produced some of the largest wild pike ever caught in the British Isles, including three fish over 40lbs, the proposals would see the loss of internationally-important nature reserves, six villages and thousands of homes.

A Natural England spokeswoman quoted on The Times' website said the government-backed conservation quango wanted to start a debate over the plans and the best way forward for the broads, as sea levels rise and our coastline becomes more costly to defend.

The Pike Anglers Club has given the public to have their say by offering them the chance to sign its online petition, on Prime Minister Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street website.

Last year, the 2,500-strong club helped villagers win a campaign to save Cambridgeshire's historic lodes.

Click here to sign the petition to save the Broads.

Click here for the Lowestoft Journal report.

Sacrifice Broads for 'right message' - call

Allowing parts of the Norfolk Broads to be flooded by the sea would send out "the right message" to the public about climate change, it was claimed last night.

Conservation groups have met in secret to discuss plans to abandon 15 miles of coastal defences which protect the Upper Thurne and its broads - along with six villages and thousands of homes.

Leaked details of the proposals - discussed in secret by Natural England, the Broads Authority and Environment Agency - have been revealed by The Times.

It quotes extracts of a paper it says was discussed at the meeting, which said: “The broads (Martham, Horsey, Heigham Sound and Hickling) would become inundated by the sea, fen vegetation would be lost. It is likely over time that a spit would develop behind which coastal and intertidal habitats would develop.

“The increasingly unsustainable nature of the Horsey to Winterton frontage beyond the next 20 to 50 years opens up the possibility of realigning the coast as described within this time frame. It can also be argued that by selecting a radical option now, the right message about the scale and severity of the impacts of climate change is delivered to the public.”

In the same report Martin George, a member of the Broads Society, said up to an eighth of the broads would be lost if the planned retreat went ahead.

A report on options for maintaining sea defences in the face of climate change is due to be delivered to the government in September.

The Pike Anglers Club fears historic fisheries could be lost. It has launched a petition to save them. By last night hundreds had signed it. Click here to join them.

Click here to read The Times report.

PAC welcomes call for Broads debate

The Pike Anglers Club welcomes Natural England's call for a debate over climate change and its likely impact on the Norfolk Broads.

It comes after it emerged a secret meeting between the government-backed conservation group, the Broads Authority and Environment Agency had agreed proposals to abandon coastal sea defences and allow the Upper Thurne and its broads, along with six villages, to be flooded by the sea.

Some of Britain's most historically-important pike fisheries are under threat from the plan, including Hickling Broad, Horsey Mere, Heigham Sound and the Marthan broads.

The PAC has launched an online petition, calling for the government to make funding available for maintaining sea defences, which are under threat from cuts to the Envrionment Agency's flood defence budget.

It believes the Broads - which stand to lose up to an eighth of their total area under the plan - should be protected.

A Natural England spokeswoman told the Daily Telegraph: Natural England apokeswoman said the "surrender" option was one of many and their report was intended to start a debate about facing up to climate change.

She said: "We have got to face up to the issue. We have got to have discussion. There are difficult decisions to be made and we have produced this report after lengthy research.

"It's one of a number of options for consideration and we're in the early stages of trying to decide what options to take."

Six entire villages would be lost within a generation if the defences along a low-lying area of coastline at Winterton were abandoned to the North Sea.

To date, people living in Eccles, Sea Palling, Waxham, Horsey, Hickling and Potter Heigham have not been consulted over proposals which would sound the death knell for their communities.

Click here to sign the PAC's online petition on the 10 Downing Street website.

Stark future for Broads, warns Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph tonight has a hard-hitting report on the threat to abandon the Upper Thurne and its broads to the sea. It claims up to an eighth of the Norfolk Broads could be lost if proposals agreed at a secret meeting between Natural England, the Broads Authority and Environment Agency are put into action.

Click here to read it.

Save the Broads petition tops 300

A Pike Anglers Club petition to save the Norfolk Broads topped 300 signatures today - as anger erupted over plans to abandon them to the sea.

Communities affected by proposals to allow the Upper Thurne and its broads to be flooded were not consulted when Natural England, the Broads Authority and Environment Agency discussed the plan behind closed doors.

The scheme would mean the loss of six villages and thousands of homes. as well as come of the finest pike fisheries in Europe and internationally-important nature reserves.

John Welch, of the Eastern Daily Press, wrote: "At least six villages wiped off the map, hundreds of people turned out of their homes and some of the Broads' best freshwater lakes swamped by sea water.

"Thousands of acres of agricultural land turned into mudflats, the loss of bird species such as bitterns, cranes and marsh harriers and the extinction of traditional crafts such as reed cutting.

"Unthinkable? Perhaps, but if radical proposals currently under consideration for the future of the Broads ever see the light of day, by no means impossible."

Click here for more, to sign the PAC petition click here.

Plan would devastate Broads, says MP

The full scale of plans to surrender flood defences on the Norfolk coast are revealed today. They would lead to the flooding of internationally-important pike fisheries on the Upper Thurne system and the loss of Horsey Mere, Hickling Broad, the Martham broads and Heigham Sound.

Twenty-five square miles of the Broads would be flooded by the sea, which would be allowed to breach coastal defences and flood inland as far as Potter Heigham and Stalham.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb today said the plans were devastating. He told the Eastern Daily Press: "What shocks me is that profound, devastating implications are being discussed without the communities affected being part of the decision at all."

Click here to read the full story - EDP Reports

The Pike Anglers Club has launched an online petition to Save The Broads. Click here to sign up.

Anglers launch bid to save the Broads

Anglers have launched a campaign to save some of Britain's most historic pike fisheries, after it was revealed they are under threat from plans to abandon coastal defences which protect parts of the Norfolk Broads.
Proposals to allow the Upper Thurne system to be flooded by the sea have been discussed by the Broads Authority, Natural England and the Evironment Agency.
If they are put into action, the 2,500-strong Pike Anglers Club fears Horsey Mere, Hickling Broad, the Martham Broads and Heigham Sound will be lost forever within a generation.
Whole villages and thousands of acres of farmland will also be flooded or turned into salt marsh.
PAC president Phil Wakeford said: "In 2007, we warned that historically important fisheries and nature reserves were at risk from proposals to cut sea defence budgets. Our worst fears have now been confirmed.
"While the Upper Thurne system is a unique fishery which has produced some of the biggest wild pike ever landed in the world, it also contains internationally-important nature reserves which are of key importance to over-wintering wildfowl.
"A number of villages will also be abandoned if this plan is given the go-ahead. We understand other options, including maintaining sea defences, were also tabled but rejected.
"We have today launched an online petition as the first stage of a campaign to save the Thurne and its broads. We call upon anyone who loves this unique environment to join us in the fight to save it."
Three record pike, each over 40lbs, were landed from the Thurne system, inspiring generations of pike anglers to visit Norfolk.
Pike fishing remains an important revenue earner for the county, along with bird watching.
The Pike Anglers Club has campaigned to protect the pike and pike fishing since it was formed in the Fens 30 years ago. Last year it helped villagers fight a successful campaign to save the Cambridgeshire Lodes.
The petition can be found on the Ten Downing Street website, click here to sign it. More information will be posted as we get it on the Save The Broads website. Click here to see it.