Controlled dredging will deepen a channel for navigation

Controlled dredging will begin on the Norfolk Broads to keep open a navigation channel and restore a ‘lost’ island.

Heigham Sound, which leads to Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere, has silted up to a depth of 90cms in places resulting in some traditional cruisers going aground.

Dredging has been delayed because a disposal site could not be found.

But now the Broads Authority is trialing an innovative project to use a medieval technique of filling gabion baskets with the dredging sediment to rebuild an island that was lost to tidal erosion and grazing geese.

The experimental work to create a 20m x 20m island will be monitored for a year to assess its viability, stability and habitat creation qualities.  

If the trial stage is successful and Natural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency agree, the whole island measuring about 1 hectare (2.3 acres) will be restored.

The design of the cages has been based on gabions filled with soil and rock which have been used by the British Army as barricades in Afghanistan.

If this pilot scheme is successful it could be rolled out to restore other eroded islands across the Broads.

The Broads Authority has stated that the work, centred on Duck Broad, will not obstruct boating.