Salhouse Broad environmental scheme set for awards

Work at Salhouse Broad: picture Mike Page

Work at Salhouse Broad: picture Mike Page - Credit: Archant

The impact of a pioneering dredging scheme on a Broads beauty spot has been captured by this stunning aerial picture.

This winter, boating holidaymakers at the tourist honeypot of Salhouse Broad have seen the spit dividing the broad from the River Bure grow and grow.

The project involved laying giant plastic bags across the water near the spit and filling them with sediment dredged from the river.

The work has successfully consolidated the spit, both protecting an important mooring run by the Cator estate on its riverside bank and restoring a reed bed on its broad-side which had been lost through decades of erosion.

Now the scheme, part of an EU-funded PRISMA (Promoting Integrated Sediment Management) project aimed at finding new dredging solutions, has been selected as a finalist for the 2013 Water Renaissance Awards.

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The design of the project was the result of sharing expertise with the Broads Authority's partners, a water board in Holland, a navigation authority in Belgium and a specialist engineering university in France.

William Coulet, the Broads Authority's PRISMA project manager, said the innovative scheme, costing £230,000, demonstrated how dredging the Broads could become a win win situation for boaters and wildlife alike.

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He said the techniques used had attracted huge national and international interest and led the way for future projects in the Broads and beyond.

He said: 'It can often be a problem finding places to dispose of dredged mud. However this pilot scheme has underlined the fact that sediment should be regarded as a resource rather than a waste. 'It has involved improvements to both navigation and conservation by dredging 12,000 cubic metres of mud, creating a 7,000 square metre reed-bed and rebuilding a spit of land between the river and Salhouse Broad which is popular for moorings.

'This recognition by the Waterways Renaissance Awards is an acknowledgement of the multiple achievements of this project and something which the team working on it richly deserve.'

The giant woven geotextile bags used - big enough for a car to drive through - were supported by alder poles cut from nearby river banks on the Cator estate.

The bags, which have a circumference of 18.6m, have sunk below the waterline to form a 170m retaining wall, and the void behind the bags has been filled in with sediment.

The mud has been planted with reed seed and rhizomes taken from encroaching reed fringes in the nearby river to help restore the reed bed as it would have looked 60 years ago.

For the past 11 years the awards have recognised over 120 exceptional projects that have transformed the nation's canals and rivers into exciting places.

Led by an independent panel of experts from the environmental, engineering, architecture and regeneration sectors, they are highly regarded across the UK and shine the spotlight on the work done by volunteers, local communities and public, private and voluntary organisations to keep our canals and rivers special.

Helen Carey, chairman of the assessment panel, said: 'It is truly inspiring to see how people and organisations across the country are working together to protect, improve and care for our canals and rivers. All projects reaching the finalist stage should be justifiably proud of all that they have achieved.'

The ceremony for the awards, run annually by the Canal and River Trust, will take place on Thursday May 23 at the ICC in Birmingham.

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