Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 20:32 UK

Norfolk Broads 'lost' island to be restored

The Upper Thurne, Norfolk Broads
An island is to be restored on Heigham Sound Pic: Mike Page

Controlled dredging is to take place on the Norfolk Broads to keep open a navigation and restore a "lost" island.

The Broads Authority will use special baskets lined with textile materials to hold sediment from dredging the river.

These interlocking baskets will form the foundation for the rebuilding of an island in Heigham Sound that was lost to tidal erosion and grazing geese.

The technique avoids pollution created by toxic algae that bloom when disturbed and can kill fish.

The technique aims to create a new habitat designed to give shelter to wintering birds, to recreate a reed swamp and to separate Duck Broad from the main channel.

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.

More than £10,000 has been invested in control measures to reduce the risk of an outbreak of the Prymnesium algae which can prove toxic to fish.

Favourable conditions

Water quality is being tested in three locations on a daily and weekly basis for Prymnesium levels, salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and turbidity.

An emergency action plan in the event of a Prymnesium outbreak has been drawn up between the Broads Authority and Environment Agency.

Rob Rogers, from the Broads Authority, said: "Water sampling is showing very low levels of Prymnesium and favourable conditions for dredging.

"The sampling will continue for some weeks after the project to ensure good scientific data is gathered."

Heigham Sound, which leads to Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere, has silted up to a depth of 90cms (35ins) in places resulting in some traditional Broads sailing cruisers running aground.

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