Broads Plan 2022 - 2027

Previous section: Vision and principles

Theme A: Responding to climate change and flood risk

Introduction | Managing flood risk | Reducing our carbon emissions | Long-term aimStrategic objectives and key actions

Aerial image of St Olaves

Theme A: Responding to climate change and flood risk

A1 - Prepare a long-term integrated flood risk strategy for the Broads, Great Yarmouth and interrelated coastal frontage and maintain current adaptive coastal, tidal and fluvial flood risk management approaches for the area.

A2 - Work towards making all Broads Authority operations carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2040.

A3 - Agree carbon reduction targets for the Broads National Park and promote action to reduce emissions.


Sea level rise, coastal change and the predicted more rapid changes to the climate, including more frequent flooding, pose enormous challenges to the special qualities of this easterly, low-lying wetland. Responding to these challenges is central to all themes in this Broads Plan. It is clear that we need to act now, both to mitigate the scale of change (such as reducing our carbon emissions) and to adapt to the changes that are inevitable. We are likely to see key impacts for the distribution of habitats and species, visual landscape character, demands for water resources, and agricultural patterns and production.

The Protected and Conserved Areas Joint Statement on Climate Change and Biodiversity Crises statement 10, which was signed by National Parks UK among others, highlights that the global family of protected and conserved areas are well placed to take rapid and far-reaching action to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. They are also areas where billions of people connect with nature and can become inspired to play an active part in combatting these dual crises.

We must inform our adaptation and mitigation decisions with strong evidence and widespread debate with all interests, to help us determine what is desirable and possible, and what will make us more resilient to change. The Broads Authority is working with multiple stakeholders to better understand the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on the Broads and surrounding areas, and to develop the best management options for the longer term. In doing so, we are considering how the various options may affect our local communities, businesses and visitors as well as our natural ecosystems and the services they provide such as thriving wildlife, fresh water, food, carbon capture, recreation and employment.

Managing flood risk

Water is obviously a dominant feature in the Broads, and its interconnecting characteristics present continual challenges in dealing with changes in quality, availability and levels. This section looks at flood risk management; other issues related to water quantity and quality are addressed in Theme B.

Flooding is a natural and sometimes beneficial process within a floodplain like the Broads, and the control of water has been a major influence on the form of this landscape for hundreds of years. In living with our water environment, we have to accept the associated risks and, where necessary, be adaptive to change. Flood risks include damage to property, infrastructure, habitats and farmland, causing distress to people and wildlife. Around 85% of the Broads executive area is at some risk of flooding, including thousands of properties and around 25,000 hectares of farmland and mainly freshwater habitats. Higher sea levels along the north-east Norfolk and north Suffolk coast bring an increased risk of sea defences being overtopped or breached. This can also hold back water trying to drain from the rivers, causing flooding to natural and built capital. A combination of particular weather conditions and high tides causing a surge in the North Sea can also push salt water higher up the system, damaging the area’s freshwater biodiversity and agriculture.

The main types of flooding we face in the Broads are tidal and coastal, river (fluvial) and flooding from ordinary watercourses, surface water and groundwater. Multiple agencies called Risk Management Authorities are involved in managing flood risk, including the Environment Agency (which has a strategic overview of all sources of flooding and coastal change), Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils (as the Lead Local Flood Authorities for their respective areas), District and Borough Councils, Internal Drainage Boards and Highways Authorities.

The Broads executive area includes a short stretch of coastline between Winterton and Sea Palling, and coastal erosion can affect the area. The Broads Authority has signed up to the Norfolk and Suffolk Coastal Authorities Statement of Common Ground on Coastal Zone Planning, which has an agreed approach to make sure that land and marine planning regimes are integrated. In the current Shoreline Management Plan, the Broads’ coastline is subject to a ‘hold the line’ policy in the short to medium term (up to 2055), and a conditional ‘hold the line’ policy for the longer term (2055-2105). Without this policy approach, sand dunes and associated coastline habitats and species, as well as buildings and infrastructure, could be further affected by coastal change.

Strategic flood and coastal risk management in and around the Broads used to incorporate three separate major flood defence systems: The Broads (tidal and fluvial); Eccles to Winterton (coastal); and Great Yarmouth (tidal). The Broadland Futures Initiative (BFI) is a multi- agency partnership set up to integrate flood risk management for the whole area, and produce a strategy covering the next 100 years. Work is underway to secure support and publish evidence, and the BFI will be engaging widely with stakeholders to identify the way forward, including conversations with local communities about flood risk adaptation. The Environment Agency has the lead technical responsibility and is working with the Risk Management Authorities and others, and the Broads Authority is leading on governance and communications activities.

The Broads Authority’s ambition to retain the area’s predominantly freshwater conditions for as long as practicable is being assessed as part of the BFI approach. It will be linked to climate change scenarios, and a shared vision that takes account of environmental, technical, socio- economic and political considerations, with planned action to help us prepare for long-term resilience and adaptation in the Broads.

Reducing our carbon emissions

Reducing carbon emissions across the Broads is a priority. In 2019 the Broads Authority adopted a climate emergency statement pledging to work towards making its operations carbon neutral by 2030 and reducing all carbon emissions to zero by 204011. It also aims to work with local communities to set a carbon reduction target and measures for the Broads National Park. A carbon footprint greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions assessment of the Broads was produced in 2022.

More widely across protected landscapes, National Parks UK hopes to become a hub for the ‘Count Us In’ initiative, which sets 16 steps to reduce carbon emissions based on three criteria: impact on personal carbon pollution, power to influence leaders, and ability to involve everyone.

Locally, the Broads Authority has the potential to influence its own staff and volunteers as well as 6,500 residents, millions of visitors and numerous partner organisations and local businesses.

Long-term aim

The Broads National Park and its communities are responding to the challenges of climate change and sea level rise, and the Broads Authority is on track to meet its carbon reduction target of zero emissions by 2040. Adaptive approaches and resilience standards are informed by robust evidence and wide debate on the most appropriate management options. Our decisions define the scale and expenditure of human intervention needed to protect important assets to changing regimes, and identify the actions and resources needed to implement agreed interventions. Importantly, while the Broads continues to evolve, it remains a unique and special area that retains its rich biodiversity and heritage importance and offers extensive recreation, health and wellbeing, employment and other socio-economic opportunities.

Theme A: Strategic objectives and key actions

A1 - Prepare a long-term integrated flood risk strategy for the Broads, Great Yarmouth and interrelated coastal frontage and maintain current adaptive coastal, tidal and fluvial flood risk management approaches for the area

Key actions 2022-27 [lead delivery partners]

Delivery links



  • Commission, carry out and publish updated and more extensive flood risk research and modelling (incl. saline incursion, risk and impact assessments of natural floodplain restoration); identify and appraise potential management actions to form adaptive strategy and engage with stakeholders [EA, BFI partners]


Broads Flood Risk SPD

Broads SFRA

EA and BFI partners

BFI reporting indicators

  • Update Broads Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and Broads Flood Risk   Supplementary Planning Document as required [BA, EA, LAs]
  • Develop flood risk management mapping, feasibility studies and project proposals in Broadland catchment, and implement on-site projects to restore natural flood management processes [EA, IDBs, BCP partners, NSFA, landowners]


Anglian CFMP

Funded schemes (EA Grant in Aid, CS, CFMP)

BFI reporting indicators

  • Implement and promote flood risk mitigation measures and advice, e.g. through Anglian Flood Risk Management Plan 2021-27, county Flood Risk Management Strategies, Surface Water Management Plans, LPA planning policy/ guidance [EA, LLFAs, IDBs, LPAs]

Anglian FRMP


Suffolk FRMS SWMPs

LPA Local Plans




A2 - Work towards making all Broads Authority operations carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2040

Key actions 2022-27 [lead delivery partners]

Delivery links



  • Research and implement carbon reduction measures for BA operations, incl.: all road vehicles replaced with electric versions; zero/low-emission options for heavy equipment/vessels; renewable energy generation for premises; carbon-related assessments in procurement processes; green travel to work schemes [BA]
  • Identify and implement opportunities to offset emissions from BA operations, with target of about 1,500 tonnes of offset by 2030 BA]

Count Us In

Broads CCAP

BA, grants

BA carbon emissions annual estimate

BA carbon offset targets

A3 - Agree carbon reduction targets for the Broads National Park and promote action to reduce emissions

Key actions 2022-27 [lead delivery partners]

Delivery links



  • Work with National Park Authorities in England to establish common standards for determining joint ambition towards net-zero, incl. offsetting schemes, and apply to the Broads [BA, Norfolk CCP, Suffolk CCP]
  • Commission further research on sector CO2 emissions in the Broads and promote information to raise public awareness and action [BA]

Count Us In

Broads CCAP

BA, NPE, grants, private investment

NPA family indicator data

Level of carbon emission reductions by spatial boundary

  • Agree, promote and implement measures to reduce carbon emissions from local domestic, business, recreational, travel and other sources, incl.:
    • Boating and tourism initiatives, e.g. ‘Electrifying the Broads’ and promotion of tourism hotspots within Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuels strategies (see strategic objective E1), visitor green travel (incl. multi-modal transport hubs) and local food sourcing [LAs, BA, BT partners, NSBA, BHBF, local businesses, other partners]
    • Local Plan policy and Neighbourhood Plans, e.g. building energy design and energy sourcing, use of materials and embodied carbon
    • Habitat management, incl. peatland water and carbon storage and financing - see strategic objective B3

Broads IAS Broads STS Broads WMS

EtB initiative & EVS/AFS

Local Plan for the Broads

Partners, regenerative tourism schemes & grants, private investment

# new funded projects in place (min. 2 by 2027)

AMR data

Next section: Theme B - Improving landscapes for biodiversity and agriculture

10 - Statement presented to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in November 2021
11 - In this context, ‘carbon neutral’ means that the offsetting carried out by the Broads Authority balances the emissions from its activities, and ‘carbon zero’ means there are no emissions from the Authority’s activities.