Broads Authority works in positive partnerships with local landowners

The Broads Authority is working in positive partnerships with local landowners, to make use of one of the Broads National Park’s most valuable natural resources; the sediment that is dredged from the river systems.

Every year the Broads Authority scans the river beds, surveying the area thoroughly before dredging the navigable waterways at their shallowest points. The sediment which is dredged for the purposes of navigation is not the natural water-bed but a rich solution of soil which has eroded from the catchment and riverbanks, accumulating over time.

This bi-product has multiple sustainable uses which the Broads Authority works with partners to re-use in three key ways: To build new habitats, to enhance flood bank protection, and to act as a soil enhancer on agricultural land.

The Broads Authority has had multiple successes employing the dredged soil in these three key areas. Rivers Engineer, Tom Hunter, said of the scheme,

Dredged sediment is regulated as a waste, but we know it is a soil and a useful resource, much of which originates from erosion of the banks and land within the catchment.’

Local farmers can particularly benefit from the strategy, whose purpose is to re-use sediment as a top soil due to its high organic content and beneficial nutrient levels. This process recycles key nutrients back into the soil enhancing future crop productivity for the land owner.

Environmentally, there have been several great successes in the re-use of sediment such as the complete re-building of reed beds at Duck Broad by pumping dredged sediment into contained areas within the broad to re-create lost islands or bays of reed-swamp. This is a positive result for reed dwelling wildlife such as the rare bittern as well as protecting the bankside from erosion.

Head of Construction, Maintenance and Environment, Dan Hoare of the Broads Authority said,

‘To sustainably manage the Broads’ waterways and catchment we need to continue to work with other public organisations and landowners to beneficially re-use the sediment that does find its way into the rivers and broads.’

One such third party success has been the work the Authority has completed in conjunction with the Environment Agency who are responsible for much of the flood bank protection. The dredged sediment is perfect for crest raising and strengthening flood banks and has thus proved to be a sustainable natural resource that can be obtained directly from the river, saving the costly and environmentally detrimental transportation of soil from other sources.

The alternative uses that the Broads Authority have championed for the sediment which is dredged from the Broads National Park has been a successful venture in sustainability. With local landowners, the environment and the native species of the Broads all benefiting from the bi-product of improved navigational channels.

Dredging the Bure 2 © Broads Authority

Friday 13 October 2017