A date is set for major Broads legal battle

By Rosa McMahon |

01/10/2015 |

Eastern Daily Press

A date has been set for the High Court hearing which could see the rebranding of the Broads overturned.

Landowners Tim and Geli Harris of Catfield Hall, Catfield, won permission to challenge the legality of renaming the region’s waterways the Broads National Park earlier this year.

The Broads Authority made the change in January for marketing purposes – despite the area not legally becoming a national park.

Now it has been revealed the authority could lose out if it wins the case on February 10 and 11 next year with a costs cap meaning no more than £10,000 could be received from the landowners.

However, if Mr and Mrs Harris succeed in their claim, they could receive up to £35,000 from the authority.

Authority chairman Jacquie Burgess said the move to rebrand was supported by authority members, visitors and residents.

She added: “It is important that we defend the decision which was made to promote understanding of the special qualities of the Broads and to benefit the tourism economy.”

In the legal documents for the judicial review, submitted by Mr Harris, 67, the Broads Authority is accused of acting “unlawfully”, and being “irrational” and “unreasonable”. Since May, when proceedings began, the Broads Authority has spent £10,000 on legal costs.

A High Court judge found in July there was no case to answer, yet in August a second judge disagreed.

Mr and Mrs Harris have been battling to save Catfield Fen from being damaged by abstraction for the past seven years and say the experience has shown the Broads Authority’s decision makers give “insufficient attention to support its conservation objectives”.

When the decision came, promises were made that there was no future ambition to become a national park in law and the Sandford Principle – which puts conservation as a priority over recreation and navigation – would not be applied for.