14 November 1997

Targets to help birds in Broads

NEW environmental targets to boost breeding birds have been announced for the Norfolk Broads environmentally sensitive area.

But government decisions on whether or not any extra cash will be provided to encourage farmers to recreate and restore grazing marshes will not be announced until the spring.

Announcing the targets, junior farm minister Elliot Morley said he wanted to see the recreation of 350ha (865 acres) of environmentally rich grazing marsh through arable reversion, and the restoration through raised water levels of a further 1400ha (3459 acres) within the Broads ESA.

At present, there are 16,500ha (40,771 acres) of marsh within the ESA. And MAFF is optimistic that the figure can rise to 18,000ha (44,478 acres) by 2000. The ministry pays £3m a year to more than 900 farmers under the scheme.

The RSPB welcomed the move, claiming the basic tier within the Broads ESA had done little to boost breeding wader birds, such as lapwing, snipe and redshank.