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High Court dismisses Broads National Park rebrand challenge

PUBLISHED: 13:02 12 April 2016 | UPDATED: 18:04 12 April 2016

Picture shows: Aerial View of Hicklling Broad Norfolk.
Picture must be credited to: Mike Page.
Boating/Sail/Water/Broads

Picture shows: Aerial View of Hicklling Broad Norfolk. Picture must be credited to: Mike Page. Boating/Sail/Water/Broads

A High Court inquiry into the Broads National Park rebranding has ruled in favour of the authority behind the decision.

Branding did not have ‘misleading’ effect

In the lengthy judgment, the judge said: “In principle, the authority is empowered to adopt a brand name to describe the area of the Broads for marketing purposes, including steps to increase public understanding of the special qualities of the Broads, for conservation, public enjoyment and navigation.”

He also said the branding did not have any “misleading effect as to the statutory functions of either the Broads or the authority”. He agreed with the Broads Authority’s belief that they used the branding in an “every day sense”, rather than as a legal definition.

Mr Justice Holgate yesterday gave the go-ahead for the Broads Authority to continue using the Broads National Park branding, after it was challenged by landowners Tim and Geli Harris.

The authority, which voted in January last year to rebrand the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, said while there would be no legal change in status, the image would boost tourism. The Broads has been part of the National Park family since 1989, but has never held the legal status.

In August last year, Mr and Mrs Harris were granted a judicial review inquiry, claiming the authority acted “unlawfully” and that the decision was misleading.

Yesterday, Jacquie Burgess, chairman of the authority, said she was “thrilled” with the decision.

What does it mean?

Areas with legal National Park status have two statutory purposes – to conserve the area and to promote use and enjoyment.

But the Sandford Principle rules that conserving wildlife prevails.

The Broads are dealt with under separate legislation, which says they must balance consevation, promotion of use and navigation.

Many say that should the Broads legally become a National Park, the Sandford Principle would force them to prioritise conservation, which could mean that waterways are closed to preserve the environment and wildlife.

She said: “The Broads fully deserves to be known as a national park – as much as the Lake District, the Cairngorms or any of the US Parks such as the Everglades or Yosemite.

“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.”

Mr and Mrs Harris, who say they are considering an appeal, said: “The Broads Authority does not deserve to call itself a National Park for

branding purposes because in our experience it does not give priority to its core conservation objective of protecting the unique habitats of the Broads for future generations but prefers to focus on eye-catching PR initiatives.”

The judge ordered the couple to pay £10,000 towards the authority’s legal costs of defending the action.

According to the full judgment, the authority’s legal costs “greatly exceed the figure of £10,000”.

The decision has been welcomed by National Parks UK and Visit East Anglia.

What do you think of the decision? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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