Experts are investigating claims a stretch of river known as the 'Bure Hump' could be a key factor in widespread flooding on the Norfolk Broads.

The Environment Agency is testing whether dredging the lower River Bure, near Great Yarmouth, would alleviate the high water levels that left farmers swamped, homes backed up with sewage and boat firms struggling.

It comes amid growing speculation that this key section of the waterways has been allowed to silt up and become too shallow, causing problems upstream.

Eastern Daily Press: Dredging on the River BureDredging on the River Bure (Image: Broads Authority)

The investigation follows a request by the Broads Authority itself.

The organisation has faced accusations that it has not done enough to dredge this part of the Bure.

It hopes the probe will give a clearer picture of whether a lack of dredging here is contributing to the flooding.

READ MORE: Norfolk Broads firms left high and dry because boats cannot fit under bridge

Eastern Daily Press: The Bure Hump has become the centre of a dispute between boaters and the Broads AuthorityThe Bure Hump has become the centre of a dispute between boaters and the Broads Authority (Image: Denise Bradley)


This section of the River Bure is a long, extended curve.

It has become a growing focal point in recent years as flooding has got worse on the waterways.

It runs for about 1.5 miles, from Ashtree Farm Reach to Marina Keys, just before the river reaches Yarmouth, where it flows into the Yare.

There are fears it has silted up, stopping the Bure - the largest of the northern rivers - from emptying into the larger River Yare and flowing out to the North Sea.

Eastern Daily Press: The section of the River Bure, part of which has become known as the Bure HumpThe section of the River Bure, part of which has become known as the Bure Hump (Image: Google)

There is concern this has contributed to the flooding affecting communities upstream on the northern rivers, especially places like Potter Heigham and Hickling.

The Broads Reform Action Group (Brag), made up of Broads enthusiasts, boaters and property owners, also claims an increasing number of river users are running aground as the hump has become increasingly difficult to navigate.

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The Broads Authority says it has maintained the river effectively to ensure it is navigable by boat.

It has asked the EA - which is responsible for flooding - to find out through its modelling system if deeper dredging to remove sediment at depths of up to 3m is needed to tackle recent flooding.

Eastern Daily Press: Broads Authority chief executive John PackmanBroads Authority chief executive John Packman (Image: Tom Barrett)

John Packman, chief executive, said: "We are working with the EA to see whether removal of mud from the lower Bure will have a positive effect on flooding.

"This is a top priority for us."

The probe will also assess whether dredging could actually result in increasing the risk of flooding, by allowing more water to flow into the northern rivers during tidal surges.

Such influxes of saltwater are damaging to wildlife, especially fish, and to riverside farmland.Eastern Daily Press: Bure Hump at low tideBure Hump at low tide (Image: Broads Reform Action Group)


Following an investigation by its members, Brag has accused the BA of making errors in its navigation charts, claiming it has not recorded river depths properly.

Colin Chettleburgh, chairman of the group, said this may have led to "flawed decision-making" over the management of the Bure hump, leading the BA to "drastically reduce" its dredging activities.

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He says this has heightened suspicions that the authority has resisted dredging in order to "save vast sums of money".

But the BA has refuted this and insists no mistake has been made.

Eastern Daily Press: A section of the BA's navigation chart of the Bure Hump, showing different depths of the riverA section of the BA's navigation chart of the Bure Hump, showing different depths of the river (Image: Broads Authority)

It has checked and cross-compared its hydrographic data with other overlapping data from the UK Hydrographic Office and the EA.

While this data does not relate to the exact same stretch of river, the BA say the lack of discrepancy shows its data is consistent with other groups' findings.

Mr Packman said: "The mapping of water depths is accurate, nor is there a significant issue for navigation.

"The water depths conform to our waterways specifications and although some shoals are prone to sediment accumulation, we are not looking to dredge that area again until 2027." 

The results of the EA investigation are expected to be available by mid-August.