Anglia Boatbuilders Association  Boat Builders Community for Norfolk & Suffolk

Completed Projects

  • 14 Mar 2014 13:46 | Deleted user


    Project: "Eco-Boat"

    The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads host a significant industry based on recreational use of the water.

     It is also an environmentally sensitive area and there is a need to explore ways in which the boatbuilding and boathire industry can develop to ensure the sustainability of both the industry and the environment.




    The Background

    Members of the Anglia Boatbuilders Association have been producing craft with environmentally friendly features, particularly electric drives, for over 20 years. The first fleet of electrically powered day boats in the UK was introduced on the Broads in 1982 and there is now a large number of electrically powered boats in the area, including three operated by the Broads Authority, one of which is Ra, the first solar powered passenger boat in the UK.

    Norfolk boat builders have also been involved in the design and development of low wash hulls using data from comparative tests that were carried out on Salhouse Broad in the early 1990s on the wash produced by various designs of dayboat hull. More recently, Association members operating hire fleets on the Broads have been evaluating the use of biofuels, with trials of 100% recycled vegetable oil. These trials were the first of their kind in the UK and were funded by the Sustainable Development Fund.

    Today, an increasing range of sustainable technologies is available and the Anglia Boatbuilders’ Association has been working to encourage adoption of these by its members.


    The Ambition

    There is an increasing recognition within the tourism sector in this country and elsewhere of the importance of developing Sustainable Tourism activities. In the East of England, The Broads Authority is the first English national park authority to have been awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and nine businesses in the Broads have recently won Green Toursim Business Scheme Awards. More recently Simon Anholt, an internationally respected guru on place branding, has argued that the Broads needs to reposition itself to take advantage of the the developing market for discerning travellers who recognise the special qualtities of the Broads and wish to minimise their carbon footprints.

    Recognising some years ago that these emerging market opportunities demanded a new concept in boat design embodying novel environmental technologies, the Association conceived the idea of developing a craft that would include a full range of environmentally friendly features. The Association’s vision was to design a cruiser for the hire market that would employ the best available low-carbon technologies and make the lowest possible impact on the Broads’ environment.


    Achievements to Date

    Five years ago, in 2002, a Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) was established for the Broads and the Association saw this as an opportunity to obtain financial support for some research into available technology. Some initial proposals were put together and these were discussed at a Broads Research Advisory Panel meeting in 2003 that brought together academics and researchers from across Britain to look at the potential of alternative propulsion technologies.

    The Association submitted formal applications to the Broads Authority SDF and to the Broads and Rivers LEADER+ programme at the end of 2004 and Newcastle University was commissioned to carry out extensive research into all of the potential factors in environmentally friendly boat design. The results were presented at a seminar to the local hireboat and boat building industries in February 2005. Additional SDF funding enabled further detailed research by Newcastle University in conjunction with the Centre for Sustainable Engineering into the environmental impact and cost benefit analysis of selected technologies and this was completed in December 2005.

    Early in 2006 the Association brought together a small industry wide group to consider ways in which the ideas from the research could be taken forward. Following these discussions a further application was submitted to the Sustainable Development Fund and a specification and an outline design for the Eco-Boat were drawn up in May this year.



    The Design

    The design, by Andrew Wolstenholme, a well-known naval architect based in Norfolk, is of a 30 foot, 2 to 4 berth electric motor cruiser that will have a small carbon footprint and will encourage the people who use the craft to respect the environment.

    The key features are:

    • A hull design that produces minimal wash when driven within the Broads’ speed limits
    • A hull design that produces minimal wash when driven within the Broads’ speed limits
    • A high efficiency electric drive system. The power for the motor will be provided, in the first instance, from lead acid batteries backed by a bio-diesel powered generator. As technology develops these would be replaced by a hydrogen fuel cell.
    • Solar PV panels on the cabin roof
    • Hull constructed from fibre-reinforced composite. Initially this would probably be GRP but natural fibre reinforced materials are under development using vegetable based resins.
    • Energy efficient domestic appliances
    • Rainwater collection and ‘grey water’ recycling
    • Internal furnishings from recycled or reclaimed materials wherever possible. All timber from FSC approved sources.

    The style of the cruiser is modern yet understated and although originally conceived for the hire trade, it is clearly attractive to the private market.  



    The Proposal to Construct a Prototype

    The use of low carbon technology in boats is unconventional and therefore the project team believes that it is necessary to construct a prototype craft to identify the market potential and demonstrate the validity of the concepts, nationally and internationally. The prototype, owned by the ABA, could be demonstrated at boat shows and events and leased to a hire company for detailed evaluation on the water.

    Work that is required includes:

    • Market research to identify acceptance of the ‘eco-concept’
    • Developing a group of Norfolk businesses and other agencies to control the project, including professional project management
    • Formulating a business plan
    • Securing IP and copyright of the Eco-Boat brand
    • Detailed design
    • Construction of mould tools
    • Construction of prototype
    • Testing of craft as a hire craft on the Broads 

    The Way Forward

    Norfolk boat builders have been at the forefront of the development of craft for the hire fleets in local, national and international markets for many years and, as discussed above, the Association recognises the need to secure the economic prosperity of the regional marine sector by investing in the development of craft fit for the future. Members of the Association have enthusiastically endorsed the outline design of the Eco-Boat and have agreed to commit resources to the construction of a prototype if the financial risks involved can be mitigated.

    There are many challenges to be overcome in meeting the demands of sustainable development and in providing services fit for a low carbon economy. The work that the Association has already completed throughout the development of this project is unique and represents a significant investment in time and resource towards sustaining the future of the industry and we are determined to maintain the lead we have developed in this exciting field. The Association, in conjunction with Andrew Wolstenholme, holds the copyright of the Eco-Boat design and an application has been submitted to secure the trademark. A business plan is being drawn up for the project.

    Significant financial support will be required to progress this project and achieve the objective of constructing a prototype boat. The Broads Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund Panel has indicated a willingness to provide around £100K in support of the work and the project team are now seeking the remainder of the funds.  



Anglia Boat Builders Association 2013


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