The Broads Authority was set up through the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act of Parliament in 1988.
It began operating as a Special Statutory Authority in 1989.
It is the duty of the Authority to manage the Broads for the purposes of:
- Conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Broads
- Promoting opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Broads by the public
- Protecting the interests of navigation.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 also documents the Authority's need to regard the needs of agriculture and forestry, and the economic and social interests of those who live or work in the Broads.
By creating a Special Statutory Authority the Government recognised the Broads needed the same protection as a national park but with the added responsibility for protecting and maintaining the waterways.
In 2006 the Broads Authority promoted a second Act, the primary purpose being to introduce greater safety controls on broads and rivers. The Broads Authority Act 2009 received Royal Assent in July 2009.
In addition, a number of changes to the 1988 Act have been made by other legislation.