Go-ahead for £4.5m project to protect the Broads

High's Mill, Halvergate. Photo by: Julian Claxton

High's Mill, Halvergate. Photo by: Julian Claxton - Credit: Archant

The Broads is to receive the biggest investment in its history in a bid to protect and restore the landscape.

Halvergate marshes. Photo by Mike Page

Halvergate marshes. Photo by Mike Page - Credit: Archant

A major scheme to provide better access, renovate mills and educate young people has been given the cash it needs to get started.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is to grant £2.6m for the £4.5m Water, Mills and Marshes programme, which will see 38 projects carried out on the waterways in next seven years.

Led by the Broads Authority with 55 partnership organisations, the vision would focus on the Rivers Yare, Bure and Waveney in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Acle and Loddon.

Broads Authority chief executive John Packman welcomed the successful bid. He said: 'We are absolutely thrilled with this award, which will not only help enhance the Broads landscape but will broaden people's idea of what that landscape means, help them connect with it and give them the skills to cherish it.'

Pictured: Ted Ellis Date: Unknown Source: Library

Pictured: Ted Ellis Date: Unknown Source: Library - Credit: Archant

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It would involve one of the biggest pieces of work ever seen on the Broads, with a focus on the drainage mills at Halvergate marshes, an area which boasts one of the greatest concentrations of mills in Europe.

Once central to working the land around the waterways, pumping water out so it could be farmed, many mills have now fallen into ruin and need money and work to be restored.

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Another cornerstone of the scheme is increased access to the Broads, something many feel there is not enough of.

Those living in urban areas will be encouraged to visit sites where projects are, with negotiations with landowners and increased footpath access in the pipeline to increase the amount of waterways the public get to see. Through forging links with Easton and Otley College, the project seeks to equip 30 construction students a year with the skills to restore heritage buildings.

It is hoped a Broads curriculum would create interest and understanding in the areas where we live.

The question is often raised why school children from Norfolk and Suffolk learn about national parks elsewhere in the country, rather than the Broads which is on their doorstep.

Project leaders want youngsters to get hands-on knowledge and use the area as a practical resource for learning.

A medieval boat found in the mud on the bank of the River Chet in 2013 will also be re-built.

About £1.9m of the total £4.5m will be funded by volunteer contributions and match-funding..

The Broads Authority has agreed to put £150,000 in over the next three years for the work. Explaining the importance of the Heritage Lottery Fund's support through the Landscape Partnership programme, Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: 'I'm delighted that thanks to National Lottery players we have been able to fund this project to save this precious drained marsh landscape, conserve threatened habitats and species, and to reconnect people with the natural heritage all around them.'

Do you have a story about the Broads? Call Rosa McMahon on 01603 772453

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