Investment of £4m to unlock idyllic Norfolk Broads spot for more to enjoy

Hoveton Great Broad. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Hoveton Great Broad. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A £4m investment is set to breathe fresh life into one of the crown jewels of the Norfolk Broads.

Work is set to improve the water quality of Hoveton Great Broad to benefit wildlife there, and access will also be improved to unlock the area for more people to enjoy.

The ferry service from nearby Salhouse Broad, which is vital to allow more people to reach the nature trail, is set to be bettered and more heavily promoted.

An existing boardwalk will be widened and new muster points added, making it easier to use.

Signage will also be improved, and there will be greater volunteer involvement to provide better explanation of the habitats and species to visitors.

For the first time ever, Natural England will run guided boat trips out onto the broad itself, allowing people to experience the magic of the site from the water.

A new canoe trail will also be established, which will run through the Hoveton Marshes to a new viewing platform at the edge of the broad.

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Work is funded by a £2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and a further £2m of EU funding.

Sarah Dawkins, Natural England's area manager for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: 'Hoveton Great Broad is already a wonderful place, enjoyed by thousands of visitors to our nature trail every year.

'This funding will restore clean water and benefit wildlife.

'It will be easier for more people to enjoy and appreciate this special wetland once access improvements are in place.'

Poor water quality, caused by nutrient enrichment, has been a problem in the Broads for decades.

The project will transform the broad from its current murky, algal-dominated condition to a clear, plant-dominated state, rich in birds, insects and fish.

Lake restoration will be achieved through a combination of sediment removal and biomanipulation – a technique involving the temporary isolation of the broad from the river system and the removal of certain fish species.

Soft, unstable sediment will be removed from shallow areas of the broad, producing a better environment for water plants to grow.

The sediment will be used to construct new fen habitat.

Rick Southwood, Natural England's senior reserve manager for the Broads, said, 'Ecologically, Hoveton Great Broad is in poor condition, due to decades of nutrient enrichment from the surrounding catchment.

'However, thanks to considerable investment by the water companies and improving farming practices, the quality of water coming in from the adjacent River Bure has improved significantly and the time is now right to carry out in-lake restoration works.'

Planning permission for the work has already been granted and lake restoration due to begin in October 2016.

Natural England has just agreed a new lease of the site, securing further conservation management until 2040.

Hoveton Great Broad lies within the Bure Marshes National Nature Reserve (NNR).

East of England MEP Vicky Ford said: 'This investment will support the Natural England project to restore wildlife habitats across Norfolk.

'This particular scheme is an innovative science-led project and I am delighted it has been recognised with this money.'