Beyond the Broads

The land upstream of the Broads is mainly arableThe Broads does not exist in isolation. The Broadland rivers catchment area is more than ten times bigger than the Broads and includes around two thirds of Norfolk and some of North Suffolk.

Water that falls in this area runs, drains, percolates, or is pumped into rivers and ultimately flows through the Broads and out to sea at Great Yarmouth.

A Broadland Catchment Partnership (BCP) has been formed to work together for healthier water and wetlands in the wider area.

Upstream thinking

The Broads is low lying and located at the bottom of the catchment so is significantly affected, not only by tidal influences, but also by what happens further upstream. The upstream areas of land are mainly arable and generally steeper sloping, and present a greater risk of run-off and pollution from land. Therefore we also need to focus our efforts and resources upstream in the headwaters rather than just in the areas immediately around the Broads.

Importance of the partnership

Working in partnership the Authority has been successful in restoring several broads since our establishment in 1989. Applying this approach to the entire catchment is a huge challenge but is vital if improvements are to be seen.

The catchment has a strong farming heritage, internationally important wildlife, excellent angling, inland navigation, stunning landscapes and coast, historic towns and the city of Norwich. Protecting these special qualities and tackling specific issues that affect water, wildlife, landscape and recreation are important to many individuals and organisations in Norfolk and Suffolk.

There has been some fantastic work by statutory authorities, charities and local groups to deliver successful projects within the catchment. However, these have not always considered all interest groups and rivers, broads and groundwater still fail to meet strict European targets and fall short of national guideline standards for wildlife. Farmers and the public have recently experienced water shortage and also flooding. Climate change and planned development will add further pressure at a time when government expenditure is being cut.

While the catchment has a legacy of good partnership projects to build upon, to make a real difference we have developed an integrated approach with the aim of widespread change in behaviour and multiple benefits to protect and enhance it for the long term.

Our involvement

The Broads Authority volunteered to host and co-ordinate the BCP. Through applying an evidence-based approach and making use of local knowledge and skills the partnership has been able to produce a plan that sets out potential solutions that are practical, sustainable, affordable and of benefit to us all. By working together we can all take the necessary steps to deliver improvements to the environment, society and economy within the Broadland rivers catchment.

Facts and figures

  • Catchment area: 3200km2
  • Land use: more than 80% arable - mainly privately owned.
  • Population: around 850,000 residents
  • Tourism: 7.4 million visitors supporting >6000 jobs, spending £469M in the Broads in 20111
  • Agriculture: 8,500 jobs in the wider Broadland area rely on farming
  • Flood risk (Norfolk properties):
    • Surface water: 37,991
    • River: 15,965
    • Tidal: 46,1213 

Broadland WaterLIFE Water Sensitive Farming Project 2016-2018

The BCP helped to secure funding from WWF and Coca-Cola for a water stewardship project that will:

  • Deliver confidential advice to reduce Diffuse Water Pollution from Agriculture (DWPA)
  • Promote measures that improve the environment, increase yields, or help with cross compliance including:
    • Silt traps (bunds, wetlands, ponds and ditches)
    • Cover crops 
    • Soil enrichment  
    • Compaction reduction through: improved cultivation; tramline disruption; and traffic reduction
    • High risk gateway re-location
    • Buffer strips
    • Watercourse fencing
  • Host knowledge exchange events to enable farmers to share and develop best practice
  • Develop ongoing relationships with farmers to assist implementation of improvements to enhance soil and water quality
  • Produce case studies demonstrating the economic and wider benefits of implementing soil and water quality improvements
  • Spread key messages, such as reduction in pesticide use through ‘Slug it out’, as well as promoting agri-environmental scheme opportunities

For further information or to book a free visit please contact:

Alison Smyth, Broadland Farm Adviser, Norfolk Rivers Trust
07493 685906

Neil Punchard, Broadland Catchment Partnership Officer  
07900 266496

'Slow the Flow' project 2015/16

The BCP secured £31K from Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF) a for a ‘Slow the Flow’ project 2015/16 to construct and promote demonstration Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (RSuDS). The fund was for projects that help to improve Water Framework Directive status of water bodies in 2015/16. The project constructed eight RSuDS across the catchment. These are low tech, low cost solutions that can improve the quality of run-off from fields, roads and urban development. These will act as demonstration sites and it is hoped they will encourage more widespread adoption across the catchment to mitigate against the extreme rainfall events that we are experiencing. Over 100 farmers and landowners have already been taken to see several of our schemes.

Catchment Plan

Catchment Plan

Terms of reference

Terms of Reference Broadland Catchment Partnership

Steering Group Minutes

27 September 2016
9 June 2016
9 March 2016
25 November 2015
19 August 2015
21 May 2015
26 February 2015
2 October 2015
7 July 2014
20 March 2014
8 November 2013
19 September 2013
29 May 2013
18 April 2013


Catch up October 2016
Catch up July 2016
Catch up April 2016
Catch up January 2016
Catch up October 2015
Catch Up July 2015
Catch Up March 2015
Catch Up December 2014
Catch Up September 2014
Catch Up June 14
Catch Up October 2013

Catch up July 13
Catch Up May 2013
Catch Up February 2013
Catch Up October 2012

Previous workshop reports

Soil and Water Workshop 2015 Summary
Feedback to Defra on NELMS
Activity & Action Workshop
Evidence Workshop
Start-up workshop

Previous workshop supporting information

Activity Evaluation
Evidence Survey

Salle Workshop 2016

Workshop Report


Neil Punchard
Andrew Williams
Richard Cooper
Ron Stobart
Ed Salmon
Paul Hovesen
Rob Holland
Roberts Camps