Broads Rangers could get new powers to tackle 'hostile behaviour'

People out on their boats enjoying the Norfolk Broads. Picture: Danielle Booden

People out on their boats enjoying the Norfolk Broads. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Rangers on the Broads could be granted new enforcement powers to combat antisocial behaviour on the waterways.

The new measures are being proposed by the government as part of a wide review of the way that England's national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) are run.

Ministers have raised concerns over "hostile behaviour" seen at the sites across the country in recent years, amid rising visitor numbers during the pandemic.

The Broads saw one of their busiest summers last year, as large numbers of Britons decided to holiday in the UK rather than risk foreign travel.

The new powers being proposed would allow rangers to issue fixed penalty notices if byelaws were broken.

The amounts of penalties could also be increased, in a measure the government say would “act as a stronger deterrent and provide reassurance to local communities.”

In addition, rangers could be permitted to make public space protection orders to deter “genuinely antisocial behaviour”.

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The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed it was considering these changes as part of its response to the 2019 Landscape Review - a report focussing on how the country’s national parks and AONBs could be improved. 

Since the review's 2019 publication, Defra said that "rangers in protected landscapes have observed increased visitor numbers and an increase in anti-social and hostile behaviour". 

Other changes being considered as part of the review include reform of the planning law in national park areas and AONBs.

One proposed idea would see AONB teams, such as the Norfolk Coast Partnership, become statutory consultees on planning applications, meaning that they have to be consulted on all proposed developments in their areas. 

A busy beach in the hot weather at Wells-next-the-Sea. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Wells-next-the-Sea, located within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Local authorities and national parks are currently being consulted on the ideas.

Broads Authority chief executive John Packman said: “The Broads Authority welcomes the detailed response from the government to the Landscape Review along with the opportunity to comment on this.

Chief executive of the Broads Authority, John Packman. Photo: Denise Bradley

Chief executive of the Broads Authority, John Packman. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2009

“Our members and officers will be studying the content carefully before providing a timely response to the consultation.”

The Landscapes Review had warned that “large parts of society have no relationship at all” with England’s protected landscapes. 

It said: “A study for the Broads National Park found that of 623 local children asked, only two knew that a broad was in any way associated with water.”

Commenting this week, Mr Packman said: “Despite the disruption of the Covid pandemic, last year the authority and its partners have helped over 400 children and young people enjoy residential experiences in the Broads through the Generation Green project. 

“We are hopeful that this type of work not only continues but expands further as a result of the Landscape Review.”