Campaigners overjoyed as river is dredged

Business leaders campaigning for a Norfolk river to be urgently dredged have had their prayers answered.

The Loddon and District Business Association launched Keep Calm and Save Our River after concerns that part of the southern end of the River Chet at Loddon and Chedgrave was in danger of being cut off from the rest of the Broads. Work was carried out last year to de-silt and improve the banks of the northern end of the river, prompting fears that if the same treatment was not given further along its deterioration would turn away tourists and damage business.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition to persuade the Environment Agency and Broads Authority to make the work between Pye's Mill and Loddon Staithe a priority – and work was completed a few days ago.

Andrew Walter, who spearheaded the campaign, said: 'The Environment Agency, alongside the Broads Authority were convinced by the aims of our campaign that early dredging of the River Chet (between Pye's Mill and Loddon Staithe) was vital to allow the River Chet to remain a feasible 'roadway' into this area and that this work would prevent future flooding.

'The River Chet is the lifeblood of this community and brings in thousands of tourists throughout the year. It is simply essential that it is kept navigable and local businesses and members of the Loddon and District Business Association are delighted at the progress of the works and the quality of the operation undertaken. Loddon is very much open for business.'

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A spokesman from the Broads Authority said: 'We have been dredging the River Chet for the last three years as far as Hardley Flood. In addition, our work to reconstruct Hardley Weir last May has added at least a foot of additional water depth to the Chet, which is beneficial to boating.

'The dredging of 1,500m³ of silt between Pye's Mill and Loddon Staithe was in our work plan for next winter. However, we listened to the concerns of the Loddon and District Business Association and, as we were working close by at Hardley and had the support of European funding, we took the opportunity to bring the dredging forward.'

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Any dredging remaining will be completed next winter once flood defence work has taken place.

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