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All systems go for waterways safety laws

PUBLISHED: 14:51 09 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:44 03 July 2010

LEGISLATION to improve the safety and running of the Broads should be approved in March after a Norfolk boating group dropped opposition to the changes last night.

LEGISLATION to improve the safety and running of the Broads should be approved in March after a Norfolk boating group dropped opposition to the changes last night.

The Broads Bill's provisions, including more tolls, hire boat licensing, safety certificates and third party insurance, had drawn controversy because it would mean that the Broads Authority would seek control over craft in adjacent waters.

It was hoped the bill would have been passed last summer. But it was delayed after the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club (NBYC) objected to the proposals because those with smaller craft at its Wroxham Broad head-quarters might have had to pay tolls, get insured and register themselves.

Now, the authority is feeling buoyant after the NBYC withdrew its petition against the bill's adjacent water plans. Club members have been assured the law would not apply to unpowered vessels of less than 6m2 on adjacent waters and craft between 6m2 and 13m2 would not have to pay a toll.

Now that opposition has been scrapped, the bill will be examined by the House of Lords on January 19, and there are hopes it will receive the royal assent by the end of March. If approved, parts of the bill could be implemented by April next year.

David Talbot, vice-chairman of the yacht club, said it supported the proposals to improve safety, in particular those to extend some of the key safety provisions to waters directly connected to the navigation area. But members had concerns about how the bill would impact on activities at Wroxham Broad - particularly on smaller sailing dinghies. He added: “We have now agreed how the adjacent water provision will be implemented to the club's satisfaction.”

As well as the NBYC, the Norfolk County Association of Town and Parish Councils objected to the bill because it wanted direct elections for Broads Authority members. Petitions have also been set up by 12 individuals.

Because of delays the original cost of the private bill has risen from £200,000 to a sum thought to exceed £400,000.

Broads Authority chairman Stephen Johnson said: “I am glad that we have now agreed with the NBYC how the bill's safety provisions will apply to Wroxham Broad. This is an important and welcome step which will improve safety for all users of the Broads.”


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