Petition supports boat owners in Thorpe Island eviction row
09:40 01 January 2016
Thousands of people have backed a petition opposing eviction notices handed out to boat owners living in Thorpe Island, near Norwich.
In a legal tussle lasting around five years and costing the Broads Authority £90,000 to date, 41 eviction notices have been issued to the residents of Jenner’s Basin.
Boat owners are now fearful their power supply could be cut off, with the prospect of the removal of solar panels providing electricity and clean water.
The Broads Authority, which promised that no action would be taken until this year, said that it has “no option”.
Attracting more than 3,000 signatures over the last two weeks, the petition was set up to put pressure on the Broads Authority and lend support to landowner Roger Wood.
Organiser Gary Barnes, 49, said he feels “very heartened” by the response.
“I think it is a reflection that people perceive something very wrong is happening down at Jenner’s Basin,” he added.
“People feel it is an injustice, and the number of people who have signed is indicative of that.
“The Broads Authority are in a position to enforce at any time, and residents have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. We just want to hold a hand out to the Broads Authority and say let’s sit round the table to find a solution.”
Mr Wood and the Broads Authority have been embroiled in a lengthy legal battle over planning rights in the area.
While Mr Wood insists planning permission remains from previous owners, the case has been before two planning inspectors, with a High Court judge deeming the development unlawful.
The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal that decision, but there will be an oral hearing there in February to appeal that latest ruling.
Jacquie Burgess, chairman of the Broads Authority and member of the planning committee, said: “The case around this uncontrolled and illegal development is difficult not only for nearby residents, who have been caused significant stress over a number of years, but also for those living on Thorpe Island who are now unfortunately caught up in the action that we – as a planning authority with a responsibility to look after a protected area for the wider benefit – have had no option but to take.
“We have tried for a long time to conclude this case in a different way and had the landowner accepted the planning inspectorate’s decision last year relating to permission to keep 25 boats on the island neither we, nor those living on the island, would be in such an unwelcome position now.”
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