It’s been some time since we issued any form of general news from BASG. Indeed our last newsletter was distributed back in Sep 2018. There are several underlying reasons how this came about, primarily time, IT issues and resources. This I apologize if we seem to have looked dormant, but there has been much happening behind the scenes, prior to this current COVID pandemic.
Sadly we agreed to part company with John Currie, as he decided to focus 100% on his PAC work. John is a big loss for BASG as much of our previous achievements were driven by John and his passion for the Broads.
I had hoped that we could find a forward with securing angling access right across the Broads, but it seems local Broads anglers don’t want to pay their way. This remains a significant issue if we want to sustain angling across the Broads and like many things today the market will finally force this upon us. The developments at Beccles Fen and Quay and are great example of this on the river Waveney. However I have recently secured the assistance from the Broads Local Access Forum in that its amended constitution now reads:
The advice which the Forum gives falls within one or more of the following categories:
- a) Improvement of public access to land in the area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area
- b) Issues relating to public access to water
- c) The promotion and appropriate use of opportunities for all types of user to enjoy access to the countryside
This means we should reconvene the Access Subgroup within BASG to feed potential access projects to the BLAF some 6 weeks prior to its quarterly meetings. This is positive progress and is a demonstration of BA recognising the importance of angling.
I myself have been focused on resolving the governance surrounding the River Wensum for the past 12 months, working closely with members Cass Singleton, Tim Ellis and Colin Howlett and my thanks must go them all and others who have driven this forward to a point where a full time Wensum Officer is now being recruited to deliver all the initiatives we have worked up and agreed with a wider group of stakeholders.
In January 2019 we held our first meeting with Natural England to explore and hear about their final proposals for Hoveton Great Broad. As most of you will be aware Steve Lane and Andy Hines instigated a wide reaching tagging and spawning assessment program prior to this to better understand the Impact of the proposals. As more data came to light through this tagging and spawning assessment, our concerns became real fears for the future of Bream right across the Northern Broads and to support this we asked the independent IFM to review the evidence and provide a scientific assessment of the impact.
Clearly at the heart of this is people’s opinions with ecologists declaring that the habitats directive surrounding the SSSI, out ways concerns over cyprinid fish. This point formed part of our presentation at last year’s AT regional forum and has been subject to much discussion at length with Natural England and the EA.
After these discussions and letters, which we shared with you all last Autumn, the Environment Agency decided to open a public consultation of the principle of given Natural England the environment permits to isolate the Broad from the River Bure. This consultation closed in February, but now COVID has delayed any outcome to date. We are hopeful that we have secured a positive way forward, but only time will tell. So in parallel with this we have structured the means of securing a fighting fund through donations, if and only if we need to take a more draconian stance on this.
Last year also saw myself, John Currie and Steve Roberts engaged with Whittingham Charitable Trust and partners on the potential for developing it further as an angling venue. As I was an appointed member on the Charitable Trust by the Broads Authority, some sound progress was being made modelling an angling future based on that taking place at Ferry Meadows in Peterborough. However like many things in the Broads, partnerships aren’t the strengths of the Broads Authority and the owners of the estate wanted to take more leadership, which BA officers couldn’t accept. The result was BA was removed from the Board of directors and the Park management agreement was terminated on 31st March 2020. Clearly this is a significant change in the way the Park is managed and I’m assured by the remaining Directors that angling will come back on the agenda once things settle down. But without the inherent demands from BA ecologists like we face at Hoveton.
We have completed the transfer deed and agreements for the Platforms on Rollesby Broad to become our first community asset. Again this took some 18 months to complete, with a complex management agreement with NWT, access via the Parish Council land and land ownership with Northumbrian Water. These are all time consuming issues to deal with and shouldn’t be underestimated could apply with every asset we get involved in.
To enable us to work across the wider Broads communities, we have recently joined the Broads Society who have very similar objectives to ourselves. You will see us in their quarterly magazine Hanser.
We hope to improve our communication and messaging, we have a new look website which hopefully will provide a much more dissent message about what and how we are doing against the overall Broads Angling Strategy, including a fund raising structure against our campaigns.
I have managed two fishing trips since we came out of lock down, but June the 16th still brings that feeling of real fishing and I’m really keen than ever for the start of the season.
Finally now we are coming out of the COVID crisis, one wonders what will remain of broads businesses who have been hit so hard like many by the loss of tourists.
Keep safe and tights lines for the coming season.
Chair BASG CIC
5th June 2020