Questions over delays in constructing portage on Waveney Canoe Trail

Rod Cooke. Picture: Courtesy Rod Cooke

Rod Cooke. Picture: Courtesy Rod Cooke - Credit: Archant

Paddlers using the River Waveney Canoe Trail have complained of a lack of action to construct a portage point below the Ellingham weir.

Complaints have been raised by paddlers over a lack of action to construct a portage point below the

Complaints have been raised by paddlers over a lack of action to construct a portage point below the Ellingham weir. Picture: Rod Cooke - Credit: Archant

Regular paddler Rod Cooke said plans were drawn up for the portage in September last year following years of debate and meetings.

He said land was given by the landowner and the site of the portage was cleared by volunteers.

But a year on nothing more has been done.

In a letter to the Broads Authority, the former regional access officer for the British Canoe Union wrote: 'Now here we are in the midst of another summer canoeing season and still nothing has been done. The cost of this project is quite minimal in the scale of Broads Authority expenditure.

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'When I kayak regularly around the Broads and see the huge amount of equipment being used on various schemes I have to wonder why a simple little job at Ellingham cannot be done?

'Dredging in Oulton Broad has been going on for months clearing mud from that part of the Broad that fronts exclusive, big boat owning, houses.

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'This is the second time in recent years that this exercise has been carried out while we are still waiting for a (relatively) tupenny-hapenny scheme at Ellingham.'

Mr Cooke said the canoe trail, which starts at Diss, was popular with paddlers at this time of year.

'Those using the canoe trail tend to stop at Ellingham now because of the lack of a portage there,' he said.

A Broads Authority spokesperson said the authority was keen to provide safe portage at the site.

'The project has unfortunately met some challenges in that additional work is required to the river bank in that area vastly increasing the cost and requiring additional planning consent causing unavoidable delays.

'In order to deliver the facility within budget an alternative solution using modular pontoon systems is being prepared. This will be discussed with the Environment Agency on site in the coming weeks and if agreed we will make an additional planning application.'

But Mr Cooke said: 'We are right back to the beginning in-as-much-as they now need EA and planning approval. Last time this lasted for months on end and we even had an order to stop clearing a very small patch of undergrowth until there had been an environmental survey.'

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