Catfield Fen | BAWAG | Broadland Agricultural Water Abstractors Group

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Decision Documents16/05/2015
Economic Analysis Extended16/05/2015
Economic Analysis16/05/2015
Minded To cover note16/05/2015
1. Alston Snipe Marsh16/05/2015
2. Alston Catfield Fen16/05/2015
4. Amec Pump Testing16/05/2015
5. Amec Soil Moisture16/05/2015
6. Amec Decision Table16/05/2015
8. Amec Site Management16/05/2015
10. Amec Response to BA on GW Model16/05/2015
12. Amec Water Chemistry16/05/2015
13. Barendregt Catfield Fen Condition Report16/05/2015
15. BA How Hill NNR M Plan16/05/2015
16. BA Cromes Broad query with NE16/05/2015
17. BA Response to EA on Appendix 1116/05/2015
18. BA (2013a) BA Comments16/05/2015
20. BA (2014) Relevant Permissions16/05/2015
21. BA (2014a) Response to GW16/05/2015
22. BA (2014b) Advice re Paramenter report16/05/2015
23. BA 92014c) BA email confirming tracker16/05/2015
24. Broads IDB (2013a) Sutton IDP Pump Info16/05/2015
26. Butterfly Conservation (2012) Info on Catfield16/05/2015
29. Entec (2006) App 21 Ant Broads and Marshes16/05/2015
31. EA (2003) Optimum Use of Water16/05/2015
33. EA (2009) Norfolk Valley Fen16/05/2015
34. EA (2010a)16/05/2015
35. EA (2010b) - Ant Broads & Marshes16/05/2015
36. EA (2010c)- Influence of Abstraction16/05/2015
38. EA (2010e) Upper Thurne16/05/2015
39. EA (2010f) Operational Instruction16/05/2015
40. EA (2010g) 2010 Alston Determination16/05/2015
42. EA(2011b) Regulatory Guidance16/05/2015
43. EA (2012) Operational Instruction16/05/2015
45. ED(2013b) Recent Trends16/05/2015
46. EA (2013c)-RSPB Water Level anaylsis16/05/2015
47. EA (2013d) Managing Waer16/05/2015
48. EA (2014a) Ammendments16/05/2015
49. EA (2014a) Groundwater Summary16/05/2015
Harris opening statement of the Inquiry22/04/2016
Alston opening Statement of the Inquiry22/04/2016

The Environment Agency has launched a public consultation (17 November) relating to two abstraction licence renewal applications submitted by a Norfolk farmer. The consultation will last for four weeks, closing on 15 December.

NFU water resources specialist Paul Hammett said: “We’re disappointed by today’s announcement and will be responding to the public consultation once we’ve had time to study the Agency’s decision in detail.

“This has been a long-running saga and none of the many reports produced so far has shown a clear link between abstraction and the ecology of the fen. However, under the precautionary principle the farmer has to prove that his abstraction is not having an impact before his licences can be renewed, which is no easy task.

“Meanwhile, no discussion is taking place about how this landscape is managed. The condition of Catfield Fen can be shaped as much by the management of the land that encompasses the fen as the management of the water on which it depends.”

The irrigation licences are approximately one kilometre from Catfield Fen, part of the Ant Broads and Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Broads Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Broadland Special Protection Area (SPA) and Broadland Ramsar.

Both licences expired in 2010 and it is a reflection of the complexity of the issues that the Agency has only now announced its ‘minded to’ decision.

In recognition of the significant environmental importance of areas such as Catfield, the ‘precautionary principle’ underpins the Habitat Regulations which govern these local licensing decisions. When considering whether a plan or project will affect a European designated site, the Agency must be convinced that there will be no adverse impact. Where doubt remains about the absence of adverse effects, the plan or project must not be authorised.

The Environment Agency’s view has historically been that there was no evidence of an adverse effect on Catfield Fen as a result of abstractions. However, the owners of Catfield Fen have made persistent claims in recent years that water levels on their land are falling, leading to further investigations, claims and counter-claims.

Both Natural England and the Broads Authority, other government agencies with whom the Environment Agency has been working with closely on this issue for several years, have also suggested it was not possible to rule out that abstraction was having an adverse impact on Catfield Fen.

Mr Hammett hoped that the public consultation would allow a discussion of all the issues surrounding the management of Catfield Fen.

“While we continue to go around in circles about whether or not there is a problem at Catfield, the Agency has so far looked only at water abstraction as a way of addressing it. But this is a landscape created by man and still managed by man,” he said.

“Are the land management practices at the site appropriate? Are the sluice gates that allow water onto the site being used appropriately? Is excess water being properly removed at the southern ‘bottom end’ end of the system?

“And is the vegetation on site being properly managed to avoid the gradual build-up of vegetation leading to a rise in the ground level known as ‘terrestrialisation’?”

Once the consultation has closed the Environment Agency will consider all comments received before making a final decision to renew or refuse the licences.

Information about the consultation can be found by searching for ‘Catfield’ on the GOV.UKwebsite.