Broads must be protected – Gibbons

The important but long-drawn-out project to protect the Norfolk Broads from the sea has passed the 10-year milestone but, according to anxious angling bosses and top environmentalists, there is a considerable distance to travel yet before the freshwater habitat can be considered safe from the deadly saline.

A plan is in the pipeline to establish some form of barrage or barrier in the rivers' estuary and that, declared the chairman of the Norwich and District Anglers Association, Tony Gibbons, who has attended various seminars and forums on this subject, is the way forward while the coastal shore defences hold up.

'The imperative thing now is to address the real problem of maintaining the freshwater habitat in a healthy state of biodiversity that will shape our future successfully. If the Norfolk Broads are to remain an important nature reserve and freshwater fishery as we know it, this can be achieved only by installing a tidal barrage in the estuary at the Yarmouth Haven,' he said.

'The decision taken on this issue could hold the key that locks the door of the Broads against the relentless rising seas for the next 50 years or so, after which we cannot know what will happen,' he added.

However, there comes encouraging news from the Broads Authority, whose officers are supporting current research into the feasibility of establishing a tidal water barrier upstream of the Haven Bridge within the next three years.

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The BA's statement in 2004 said: 'It is increasingly apparent that a barrage or barrier will be needed to be built sooner rather than later to defend the Broads against projected sea level rises of 90cm.

'Otherwise the environment would change from predominantly freshwater to mainly saltwater if nothing is done.'

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The urgency of heeding this dire warning could not have been plainer against the probability of serious salt water pollution in the Broads within a decade.

But now it can be reported that action has begun with the appointment of Lowestoft-based research development company 4NRG, whose environmental consultants are already engaged in writing a blueprint for a tidal energy harvester in the Yarmouth Haven which, during extremely high sea tides, would have the capacity to protect the freshwater habita.

It would also continue to generate power on a yearly basis, thus defraying the cost of defending the inland rivers and Broads.

'I have been involved in discussions on this remarkable, innovative proposal and I am confident that the debate is not a matter of whether a barrier scheme goes ahead but when,' declared Gibbons.

• An amazing catch of perch has been reeled in from Wood Rising Fishery, near Dereham, where day permits are still pegged at �5.

Andrew Perkins, of Swaffham, netted 103 of the stripeys average 1lb a piece, all of them taken on lob worm, baiting hefty tackle.

It was estimated that the aggregate was around the 100lb mark, certainly the heaviest catch of these species reported for many a year.

Best carp of the week from this central Norfolk venue was a 27lb 2oz common for Dereham's David Green, while Watton teenager Jason Rowland netted 18 stunning carp that were recently restocked.

At the Taswood Fishery, the top fish was a 30lb mirror carp for Scott Smith of Rollesby and others from the low to high 20s fell to Norwich rods Karl Wright and Adam Todd, and for Kevin Smith, Lingwood, Jordan Bailey, of Wymondham, and Greg Smith, of Rollesby.

On the match scene, a new record was created at Bartles Lodge, where Colin Urry scaled 103lb 8oz, beating Shaun James' previous catch of 85lb last year.

James also beat his old figure with 91lb 13oz.

At Barford, North Walsham's veteran former England international Jim Randell pulled off a magnificent double, winning the midweek with 134lb 14oz and the Saturday open with 156lb 1oz.

Taverham lake also maintained form with carp to 23lb 4oz for regulars Rob Weston and Ian Stockley.

Tench over 7lb were also netted by the pair.

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