Waiting game on barrier

What is the latest news of the proposal to install a tidal barrier combined with hydro electric generating plant in the Great Yarmouth's estuary?

Anxious anglers are again seeking positive answers to this burning question as autumn's high seas begin to build, threatening to drive toxic saline inland towards the teeming, but vulnerable, coarse fish shoals populating the Broads tidal rivers.

Earlier this month it was reported that Simon Hooton, the Broads Authority head of strategy and projects, had declared one way forward towards solving the salt water threat to the Broads fresh water habitat would be to lower the flood banks of Halvergate Marshes and allow over-lapping into the flood plain, thus limiting impact upstream.

This statement suggested that a barrier plan had been shelved for a third time since it first saw the light of day in the 1950s.

This week, Hooton denied the barrier option had been discarded and was indeed still on the table along with a number of others.

Anglers point out that Norfolk's tidal rivers are unique as the only catchments in south East England without some form of sea barrier.

Earlier this year Mark Aspinall, at the 4NRg coastal protection consultants in Lowestoft, prepared a positive feasability technical study for a combined barrage and hydro electric generating unit and the paperwork is now in the hands of the Broads Authority and the Environment Agency.

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'The original idea for the project was to produce a technical blueprint for a system that would play a role in addressing the threat of global warming and protecting the Broads on a cost benefit basis. We came up with the technical knowhow, but it was not our remit to tackle environmental issues or respond to feedback from the general public,' he explained.

When asked for a progress report this week, Hooton insisted that the barrier scheme and many others were being studied.

'I did mention that one of our options could lead to the flooding of Halvergate Marshes, but I can reassure anglers and others who love the Broads that the barrier scheme has not been ruled out and it is the responsibility of the Environment Agency to investigate the likely the human and environmental impact.'

He concluded: 'Over the next three years or so it is our stated intention to work together with all groups and the people to secure not only the fishing for anglers, but the whole fresh water habitat of this important nature reserve.'

Local angling bosses sincerely hope that the tidal barrier scheme will fly, and they want it soon.

Tony Gibbons, chairman of the Norwich and District AA, has always been adament that this is the only means of alleviating the constant Autumn and Winter threat of massive fish kills in the rivers Bure, Thurne, Ant and Yare.

'Barrier plans have been discussed for years without a result. Now that climate change has accelerated as a major threat to our inland waters and their aquatic life we believe the government should fund the barrier option,' he said.

In Great Yarmouth, former England international angler Dave Docwra said the town's people were mistaken that the barrier would cause flooding in the streets.

'If such a scheme went ahead in the Yarmouth Haven, Breydon Water would become a prosperous fresh water playground for anglers, sailors and speedboat racers while conserving fresh water sources during times of drought,' he said.

• Pike fishing has taken off in the upper river Thurne where Roger Nolan from Great Yarmouth bagged 12 specimens to 15lbs and a perch estimated at 3lbs while fishing a size 6 index lure from the stagings above Martham Ferry.

Broads pike record holder John Goble kicked off his season with two 20 pounders while his nephew Harry Goble bagged his PB at 24lbs 6oz.

Fish of the week at Taswood was a 21lbs pike for Peter Cummings of Ixworth offering half a mackerel.

The Environment Agency has opened up a section of the river Yare at Postwick to accomodate 20 anglers.

This week fishery officer Steve Lane saw first hand the quality of the fishing there when NDAA chairman and consultant Tony Gibbons slipped 35lbs of roach in to his keep net in just four hours.

This is free fishing with a purpose built car park with a request to keep off the freshly seeded grass.

And Gibbons' verdict? 'Fantastic fishing.'

On the match scene, where catches were well down following overnight frosts, a new event commences at Barford this Sunday – a Random teams of three league.

'All the anglers' names go into a hat and drawn out in threes and those teams will remain the same for the three rounds,' explained organiser Sarah Tomsom.

On the carp waters few quality fish were taken by falling numbers on the banks and the best reported were Taswood commons and mirrors in the low 20s for Kevin Smith of Lingwood and Andy Dade of Norwich.

• It's been another good week at the Nar Valley Fisheries complex.

Mark Thorpe decided to prove he can catch big fish from anywhere by tackling the Fenn Lake, and landing a carp of 28lb. Also on Fenn Lake, Steve Wallace banked carp of 25lb and 20lb. Best fish of the week was another 33lb mirror caught from Lake Geneva by regular member Brian Bunton, taking the site season total number of reported 30s to 23.

Again on Lake Geneva, new member Sam Frankham, on only his second visit, had his first fish, a 27lb 10oz mirror caught on a single cell bottom bait over mixed pellets and crushed boilies.