England

Norfolk and Suffolk Broads to be renamed 'national park'

Broads Image copyright RSPB
Image caption The Broads habitat attracts a wide variety of birds at all seasons of the year

The lakes and waterways of Norfolk and Suffolk are to be renamed the Broads National Park.

Broads Authority members have voted to brand the area as a national park in a bid to bring in more visitors.

Chief Executive John Packman said the name was shorthand for "special".

David Broad, of the Broads Navigation Committee, said business using the Broads had been concerned conservation would be prioritised over other demands.

Although it will be known as a national park, it will not face the legal restrictions associated with the protected status.

'Valued by everyone'

Stephen Johnson, chairman of the authority, said: "Branding the area rather than seeking a legal change is an eminently pragmatic move.

"It was additionally agreed to no longer pursue the long-held ambition to become a National Park by law, as the branding gives the area all the benefits it needs."

The Broads will hold equivalent status to the UK's other designated national parks without actually having their legal status.

Mr Packman said: "The National Park brand is internationally recognised and hugely appealing to visitors.

"It is shorthand for a place that is special, is properly looked after and deserves to be valued by everyone who visits and lives there."

Image caption The Swallowtail butterfly is one of the largest in Britain and makes its home on the Broads

What started as medieval peat diggings have become the largest protected wetland in the UK, covering more than 110 sq miles.

Over the centuries water levels rose, the peat diggings became flooded and by the 14th Century they were abandoned.

In the past 100 years they have become an attraction for boating enthusiasts and holiday visitors.

Six rivers link the broads and there is a variety of habitats including fen, woodland and grazing marshes.

Mr Broad was concerned that a potential change in status might affect navigation users' right and called on the Broads Authority to continue to maintain navigation routes along the waterways.

Image caption The boating and holiday community have been concerned their rights could be cast aside in favour of conservation

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