Backing for Breydon Water safety work

A programme of safety improvements on the Broads' most hazardous stretch of waterway is being welcomed by tourism leaders.

In a scheme planned at the time the Broads Authority (BA) took over responsibility for Breydon Water and the lower River Bure from Great Yarmouth Port Company in June, new signs, posts and bridge gauge boards have been installed to make navigating the channel across Breydon Water a simpler task.

Ahead of next holiday season, the BA is also planning to install new temporary pontoon moorings the town side of Breydon Bridge so cruisers can safely wait for the tide to drop before passing under the low Vauxhall Bridge to Yarmouth Yacht Station and the River Bure.

Subject to the success of trials soon to begin at Reedham and Somerleyton swing bridges, motorway-style electronic signs could be employed both ends of Breydon Water to warn boaters of such hazards as fog and high winds.

In a further boost for all-year-round safety, the BA will be taking delivery of a new �115,000 launch in December which will allow winter patrols to be carried out across Breydon Water even in choppy conditions.

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The BA's director of waterways, Trudi Wakelin, said: 'Our first priority was installing new, clear-to-read bridge gauge boards to the same standard as other parts of the Broads.

'It is a big issue for holidaymakers unfamiliar with the area not realising they can only pass under the bridges into Yarmouth at low water.

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'To help them, we have also installed gauge boards at the moorings the other side of Breydon at the Berney Arms and Burgh Castle so they know the situation when they set off.'

She said it had also been a priority to improve channel marking at the point where boats approaching Yarmouth turn left near Asda towards the Vauxhall bridge.

In the early part of the season, prior to the BA taking over control, about 30 holiday cruisers had gone aground on the mud after trying to cut the corner.

New posts now blocked the short-cut and an extra sign made it clear that boaters had to go around a yellow post.

Ms Wakelin said: 'This year our budget for the work on Breydon, including buying the launch, is about �300,000.'

She said the new launch, being bought from Goodchild Marine at Burgh Castle, had very good sea-keeping qualities and the space on board to recover floating debris that might be hazardous to boats.

Other work being carried out this winter would include a hydrographic survey to determine which areas of Breydon Water were most in need of dredging.

Barbara Greasley, chairman of Broads Tourism, said: 'I am delighted that the Broads Authority has committed to undertake this essential work on Breydon Water.

'Passage across Breydon has been seen as a barrier to hire boat customers accessing both the northern and southern Broads for many years.

'We are confident that replacing the posts and improving the signage will give our hirers the confidence to navigate this area.'

Mrs Greasley, who runs the Norfolk Broads Direct hire boat company with her husband Paul, said Broads Tourism had been working with the Broads Society on plans to regenerate the southern broads.

She said: 'Improving access from the northern broads, where the majority of the boatyards are situated, to the southern will hopefully ensure the spread of the fleet across the whole Broads network of waterways.

'Mitigating the perceived difficulties of navigating through Great Yarmouth and Breydon Water is one of the aims of the strategy and action plan for sustainable tourism in the Broads.

'Broads Tourism uses this strategy as the basis of all the work that we carry out. This work will obviously help greatly with this aim.'

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