Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know something about the Broads Authority or the work we do? Read the frequently asked questions below to see if we have addressed your query or get in touch using our contact form or by telephoning 01603 610734.

Should the Broads be referred to as a National Park?

It is reasonable and appropriate for the Broads to be referred to as a National Park. In 1988, the Westminster Parliament gave the Broads the same status as the other National Parks designated under National Park and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (as did the Scottish Parliament for the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs by the National Parks Scotland Act 2000).

The Broads is a National Park, and more.... of the 15 National Parks in the UK it has the greatest level of biodiversity and of course 12,000 boats which utilise the 125 miles of inland navigable waterways. The Courts (High Court and Court of Appeal), Government and the 14 other National Parks all support the Broads Authority’s decision to refer to the area as the Broads National Park.

Judges came to the view that the decision by the Broads Authority to use the term Broads National Park “could not be regarded as having any misleading effect as to the status of the Broads” (Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Simon November 2016).

Key dates

1947 – Hobhouse report - identifies the Broads as 1 of 12 potential UK National Parks

1949 – The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act - provides the framework for the creation of National Parks.

1950 – Committee reviews the designation of the Broads as a National Park. Although it satisfied the requirements, the maintenance of the Broads was considered too expensive so it was not included in the first round of designations in the 1950’s

1986 – Secretary of State announces a bill to “create a new statutory authority for the region that would have the same status as a National Park Authority and would assume responsibility for Navigation”

1988 – Norfolk & Suffolk Broads Act - establishes the Broads Authority  with similar powers to that of a National Park Authority and gave the Broads the same status as a national park

2015 – Broads Authority takes decision to use the term Broads National Park to promote the area

2016 – High Court and Court of Appeal upholds the Broads Authority decision to use the term ‘Broads National Park’

Is the Broads Authority a National Park Authority?

The Broads Authority is the equivalent of a National Park Authority but with some additional powers and responsibilities which include the management of the waterways.

When the 1988 act was put in place, setting up the Broads Authority “Parliament itself made the assessment that the qualities of the Broads made it appropriate to impose a legal regime which included the same twin objectives as underpin the National Park code” (Mr Justice Holgate April 2016).

What are the advantages of being able to promote the Broads as a National Park?

There are considerable benefits in using the term Broads National Park in a consistent manner to promote the area.

The Broads National Park attracts 7.46M visitors every year. Tourism is the second largest industry in the area (second only to farming) supporting over 7000 jobs and contributing £592M to the local economy. People all over the world understand the concept of a National Park. Having the status of a National Park helps us to promote the area to visitors, locally nationally and internationally to support and grow this valuable industry.

It also helps to increase awareness of the unique and special qualities of the Broads. For example, a huge proportion of the UK’s rarest wildlife is in the Broads and it is also rich in cultural and natural heritage. With a wider public awareness of the Broads, would come wider public support for those bodies who work to protect and conserve these important aspects.

What is the ‘Sandford Principle’ and what is the relevance to the Broads?

The 'Sandford Principle' does not apply to the Broads.

The English and Welsh National Parks were established by the National Park and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 which was modified by the Environment Act 1995 such that:

"In exercising or performing any functions in relation to, or so as to affect, land in a National Park, any relevant authority shall have regard to the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section five of this Act and, if it appears that there is a conflict between those purposes, shall attach greater weight to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area comprised in the National Park."

On 23rd January 2015 the Broads Authority stated:

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Authority indicates that it has no intention of seeking the application of the Sandford Principle to the Broads Authority’s functions because it is of the view that the Habitats Regulations provide sufficient protection for the very special qualities of the area.”

The view of the Chief Executive of the Broads Authority has consistently been that the application of the 'Sandford Principle' would not be helpful in the complex role of managing the many different interests and pressures in the Broads.

Is there any chance that promoting the area as the Broads National Park will lead to a legal change so that the Broads has exactly the same framework as the 12 English and Welsh National Parks?

There is no reason to pursue any change in the Broads status and the Broads Authority has no intention of seeking such a change (which would require a change in legislation). There would be no advantage in doing so because the Broads already benefits from bespoke legislation which meets its needs.

The 'Sandford Principle' does not apply to the Broads under this legislation; where the interests of conservation or heritage have the potential to conflict with those of recreation, the Broads Authority has to give appropriate consideration to all relevant factors.

Can I fly my drone during my visit to the Broads?

It depends, please refer to our drone use policy for more information and ensure you abide by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations.

Do I need a license to use my canoe, kayak or paddleboard in the Broads?

Yes, you will require either an annual toll or a short visit toll depending on how often you plan to use your craft in the water.

If you plan to use or keep your vessel for more than 28 days between 1st April and 31 March you need to register your craft and pay for an annual toll.

For those who plan to use their vessel for 28 days a year or less you can purchase a short visit toll.

If you are a member of PaddleUK you are licensed to canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard on any of the Broads Authority waterways including the main rivers and associated broads and dykes without requiring a toll on your craft.