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Electric boats given green light

(First Edition)

ELECTRIC-POWERED boats will be able to compete on an equal footing with noisier, smellier diesel-powered cruisers on the Norfolk Broads from today. Six recharging points are being set up specially for them.

The craft can slip through the water more easily than conventional cruise boats and create less of the wash which erodes banks.

The recharging points have been installed in a joint project between Eastern Electricity and the Broads Authority.

Electric boats should be no more expensive to hire than diesel craft they cost more to buy but are much cheaper to run.

Although it takes 12 hours to recharge the batteries, this allows for several days' cruising.

Today there are only 20 of them on the Broads and they are 'day boats' rather than the more numerous cruisers with overnight accommodation. But one of the main hire companies is considering ordering the first electrically-powered cruiser for next year's holiday season.

There are more than 1,600 diesel cruisers but the network of recharging points can cope with only 20 boats at a time. It would have to be greatly expanded if electric craft become popular.

They are not entirely fume-free, because the process of generating electricity to recharge their batteries involves pollution from power stations. But the fact that they are quiet and create less of a wash could be a major environmental benefit for the crowded Broads. Some waterways, including the Austrian lakes, are already all-electric.

The charging points have been designed to ensure that live cables cannot be dropped into the water.