Vision for Broads in 2030 is unveiled

There will be subtle changes ahead but the Broads will remain 'a breathing space for the cure of souls'.

That is the aspiration of the Broads plan as it sets out a 20-year pathway to tackle the challenges of climate change and lead the holiday and leisure playground into a greener future.

The latest revision of the strategy document was unveiled yesterday in the quintessentially Broadland setting of Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Carlton Marshes reserve near Lowestoft.

Broads Authority chairman Stephen Johnson was joined by students from Bungay High School who dug out peat cores to demonstrate how the area has lived with climate change and varying water levels over 6,000 years.

Addressing the students, he said: 'The plan is about managing the whole of the area in terms of its future and how your generation is going to look after the Broads for the long-term over the next 40 or 50 years.'

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Dr Johnson said its focus was on climate change and how the Broads could be managed as a sustainable landscape that could continue to be enjoyed by its seven million annual visitors.

Simon Hooton, the authority's head of strategy and projects, explained how the plan set out the way to meet the challenges posed by increasingly frequent occurrences of flooding and violent downpours by working in partnership with other agencies.

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One way forward might involve the eventual lowering of flood defences in areas such as the Halvergate marshes to allow overtopping in times of flood, thus limiting the impact upstream.

Such a strategy would require detailed negotiations with landowners and a flexible use of the agricultural payments regime.

Mr Hooton said while the aim would be to safeguard certain areas as a habitat for Broadland species such as bitterns and swallowtail butterflies, the increasingly salty nature of some marshland might attract new species such as spoonbills.

He said: 'We are trying to take an integrated approach; if we have the debate now we will get the best for the Broads in the future.'

Leading the Broads towards a greener future reflected the wishes of visitors who injected �400m a year into the region's economy.

'It has been found that if all things are equal, the green factor is important in people's holiday choices and it is perfect for the tranquility of the Broads,' he said.

Hire boat firms were already responding with new hybrid electric/diesel cruisers.

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