Six weeks have passed since I highlighted the lunacy of the Broads Authority's plans to dredge Heigham Sound. Since then John Currie and the guys from Norfolk PAC with The Norwich & district pike club have taken the fight to the BA. For my own part I have engaged in debate with the officers of the BA with a series of emails. Despite being bombarded with evidence and information spelling out the folly of their ways, the BA stubbornly refuses to even compromise, let alone back down.
What we are facing now is the following 'worst case' scenario;
The BA has reached the conclusion that the system needs dredging thanks to “desk based” studies from Cranfield university using a “conceptual model” (i.e. a bunch of students in a classroom) The unnecessary dredging goes ahead in the summer, the worst possible time because higher water temperatures aid algal blooms. Instead of using the more environmentally friendly suction methods of dredging, the BA uses the antiquated clam bucket equipment it bought second hand a few years ago. This could potentially scour too deep into the bed and allow salt to creep in.
The BA currently only tests for Prymnesium on a weekly basis and has not stated any plans to increase this frequency.
OK so if the Dredging triggers changes in the water, an algal bloom results which goes undetected for several days allowing Prymnesium to flourish. The algae multiplies and so does the toxin. The longer this goes on unchecked, the more potential damage will be done.
When the bloom is finally detected the BA proposes to pump water from internal drainage ditches into the affected area. Ditches that could well be virtually dry in summer or at worst, be full of all sorts of nasty pollutants and of course more of the dreaded prymnesium. How they will pump this water is still unclear at this time.
So despite the warnings and evidence which the BA writes off as “anecdotal” the quango marches blindly on and incurs a massive ecological disaster that kills the system, no Roach, Bream or Pike. No Otters. No Bittern, or Grebes. There is a history of this “anecdotal evidence”, it happened in 1969 and it took a decade for the system to become a viable fishery again. There have been numerous smaller outbreaks since then and in all honesty the Thurne system has never fully recovered.
It's OK though because the channel will be deep enough for the big boats to go through and the BA will have done their job.
Please register your opposition here;
The Angling Trust is a body that I've criticised through these pages in the past but on this issue they have been fighting in the trenches with us. Mark Owen of AT produced the letter below and it would help if people would copy this (or write something similar) and send it to your own MP.
I sent my version of this letter to my MP on 23/3/11 but sadly I still await a reply. Shame on you David Ruffley, Tory member for Bury St. Edmunds.
MP’s name and address
I am a keen angler and one of your constituents, I regularly travel to the Norfolk Broads to enjoy fishing the most important fishery in the country and to enjoy the scenery in, what is, a European and globally protected site for its wildlife and the habitats that support it. But all this is under threat; the Broads Authority plan to dredge approximately 1.3 Kilometres of the waterways at Heigham Sound for navigation purposes. Whilst this sounds benign and laudable this carries a severe risk of causing a toxic algae bloom that in similar circumstances in the 1960’s resulted in hundreds of thousands of fish being killed and turned into an ecological disaster from which Broadlands has never recovered.
I believe that the plans for dredging by the Broads Authority should be immediately stopped and that an independent public enquiry should be held to consider:
· Whether the dredging for navigation is necessary
· If it is found that it is then the enquiry should have the powers to insist that the Broads Authority carry out the work in the most ecologically sensitive manner utilising best practice from those countries that regularly encounter this issue
The Broads Authority is intent on carrying out this dredging within the next few weeks despite the objections of hundreds of anglers and increased concerns from the recreational boating sector. I would ask that you urgently contact Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Environment & Fisheries in order that he instructs the Broads Authority to stop the dredging and order that an enquiry take place.