The Wash was designated an SSSI in 1984. Prior to 84 the area from the sea defence to the low water mark had been used for many activities largely unencumbered by authority. These included motor racing, horse racing, fishing, wildfowling, bird watching, boating, grazing of animals, reclamation, as a bombing range, plus walking and swimming among other recreational pursuits.
After 1984 the marsh came under the SSSI legislation overseen by wardens until English Nature was formed in 1990. This legislation affected many activities which had previously been practiced. The Wash Estuary Strategy Group was formed whose members included many of those whose pursuits were affected, plus representatives from County and Local Councils, Internal Drainage Boards, National Farmers Union, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, and others, some of whom contributed to the administration expenses, and a Wash Warden was appointed to oversee and administer the area. This group met at regular dates to advise the Wash Warden on the practical aspects and pass on the local knowledge that members of the group had gained over many years.
As Wardens “came and left” so this group could maintain a continuity of knowledge. Eventually The Wash and North Norfolk Coast became a European Marine Site funded partly by the EU and English Nature and an administrator was appointed to oversee a wider aspect of The Wash. Because of financial restraints Local and County Council funding dried up and the Wash Estuary Strategy Group was disbanded. The European Marine Site saw that the group was a very beneficial and practical part of the administration and continued to partially finance it. This is where we are today.
As chairman of the Boston Advisory Group I try to encourage all those who use or are interested in The Wash to participate in discussions and hopefully find practical and common-sense solutions to situations that arise. As for the future, we look forward with interest because nothing stays the same forever, but our group, I am sure, will do their upmost to continue to offer advice and have the interests of peoples’ enjoyment of The Wash as a unique site.
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