How the Broads Authority is tackling climate change
What are the things that your NPA considers it is strong on in relation to climate change mitigation and/ or adaptation?
The Broads is very vulnerable to short-term and catastrophic change as a result of sea-level rise which will be exacerbated by climate change. The Authority with the help of the University of East Anglia’s world leading Tyndall Centre and Climate Research Unit has for some years been looking at the potential impact of climate change on the area.
One of the key priorities for the Authority is developing a whole landscape approach to the management of the Broads, looking at how it can adapt to different climate change scenarios over time. This work is focused on the 5 key valleys, integrating biodiversity, landscape, recreation, access and planning. At the landscape scale the Authority has commissioned the UEA’s Carbon Reduction Unit to carry out a scoping study for a carbon audit for the area (using Sustainable Development Fund support) to better understand the data options and geographic area that is significant.
As the Authority’s area is effectively floodplain the implications of PPS25 in terms of development is highly significant. The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is likely to lead to an innovative policy approach and we are looking at the experience in Holland of building techniques to allow continuing economic activity in the floodplain consistent with the special qualities of the Broads. The creation of a £100 million public/private programme over 20 years to primarily strengthen flood management is also providing opportunities for innovation and enhancement of recreation, biodiversity and landscape.
The Broads Authority has worked closely with the boating industry on reducing emissions from tourism. This has included the first solar powered passenger boat in the UK; supporting and encouraging a carbon audit of the hire boat industry; supporting research into fundamental changes to boats’ design and operation through the Eco Boat project.
What are the 3 main things your NPA is doing on climate change?
1. Joint project with the Environment Agency and Natural England to develop a long term vision for the Broads to guide the work of the Authority and identify where influence needs to be brought to bear on other bodies over the short and medium term to enable effective change to happen. This will include exploiting the leading edge facilities in the Zuckerman Institute for Connective Environmental Research (Zicer). We have been working with UEA to develop computer visualisations of alternative landscape futures as a means of engaging with stakeholders in the challenging debate on coastal realignment. The Authority is also closely involved with Natural England on one of their four pilots looking at climate change impacts on a Character Area.
2. The Local Development Framework process (and its associated work such as Strategic Flood Risk Assessment) is being used to test polices to allow the built environment within the floodplain to adapt to the threat of sea level rise and climate change effects.
3. With Defra’s support and assistance, the Authority will be moving into what will become the greenest office in Norwich (BREAM Excellent) alongside the Environment Agency and Natural England. This will also trigger other work greening the Authority’s operation (travel, other bases, procurement etc.) and help build a centre of excellence on climate change matters.
What are the 3 things your NPA aspire to do on climate change over the course of the CSR period (2008/09 – 2010/11)?
1. Develop models of landscape for the next 20, 50 and 100 years to explore with the wider public and seek to reach agreement on the extremely challenging issues of how and if the coast is defended; the need for a barrier at the mouth of the River Yare and/or the creation of washlands to accommodate increased fluvial and coastal flooding.
2. Following the scoping study outcome, initiate the Carbon audit and reduction plan for the Broads as a whole.
3 .Implement an integrated valley approach to the management of the Broads so that the economic, social and environmental resources can adapt to future change – trying to initiate a ‘no regrets’ approach to management.
What are the main obstacles that you currently face to do more?
- The need for high level and integrated leadership and communication to help the public engage with a very different future.
- The Broads Authority’s capacity not only to investigate and understand the complexity of climate change but to then develop mechanisms to communicate that information to a wide range of disparate people and organisations. This also requires a large investment into close and effective partnerships.
- Mechanisms to make the necessary changes – even once the management and operational changes needed have been identified, there will need to be modifications to the planning, collective decision making and financial (e.g. compensation) processes to enable businesses, landowners and the public adjust to a very different future.