Author Topic: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access  (Read 1373 times)

Offline Stuart France

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Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« on: June 28, 2017, 09:17:44 am »
A public consultation by the WG on new legislation for Wales started on 21st June.  This will affect recreational access to land and wider countryside issues.  This heralds the most significant recreational legislation since the CROW Act 2000, or possibly even the National Parks Act 1949.  Details can be downloaded from here:

https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/taking-forward-wales-sustainable-management-natural-resources

The closing date for responses is 13th September, leaving 78 days at the time of writing this.  This is no longer a "Green Paper".  It is actually happening now and is the real thing.  It needs everyone's engagement to get the best possible outcome for cave access in Wales, and by implication whatever improvement is achieved here will add pressure to effect improvements in England as well.

The summer holiday season is not the best for holding meetings, but I will arrange an open meeting of the Cambrian Caving Council in July to inform everyone how all this is developing and for us all to decide how best to frame our responses:  both from clubs and individual cavers.  I will organize a date and venue and announce it here on this thread and on the CCC website at http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/index.html

Cavers in England can respond positively to the WG too, particularly if you travel to Wales which supports the local economy here through your recreational activity.  You are also helping to maintain critical mass and momentum inside Wales by participating in caving and other physical activity like hill walking which benefits everyone, wherever they live, including those for whom Wales is home.

Cyclists made 5000+ responses to government at the Green Paper consultation stage, admittedly many of them a standard letter downloaded off a website, but it had a massive impact.  The Waters of Wales campaign ran a petition and has had a kayak event at the Assembly building in Cardiff Bay and other publicity stunts.  It was very visual and they got the photos they needed.  This time around cavers at large must engage and respond, but their engagement needs to be well thought out and presented - so please do it later in the summer when you have all the facts plus everyone else's advice on best presentation of ideas.

There is a morning meeting of the National Access Forum for Wales (NAFW) on Tue 11 July in Welshpool.  This is an open public meeting but only forum members (i.e. reps from sport governing bodies like CCC, NRW staff, and other invitees) can speak.  I will be there to represent CCC.  I expect some WG staff to attend and make a presentation and take questions on their legislative proposals.  I expect NAFW will form a subgroup to frame its response on the land access parts of the WG proposals, and if so then I'll be joining it.

There is a private meeting of sports bodies reps the same afternoon called by the BMC and The Ramblers to discuss coordination and how we should all best respond.  I'll post some more info/news after all that has taken place.

Stuart France
Access / Conservation Officer
Cambrian Caving Council




Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2017, 10:42:02 am »
This is excellent news and an excellent opportunity to "open" Wales to everyone 

;D

Ian

A door, once opened, may be stepped through in either direction.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2017, 11:16:18 am »
It is important to point out that in their Consultation Document they Talk of
Quote
the resilience of our ecosystems and our biodiversity continues to decline and the ever-present and overarching challenge of climate change means we must consider where and how we can improve our regulatory framework to ensure we not only support but align to this framework.
Source: Page 4 https://consultations.gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultation_doc_files/consultation_document_-_english_published_version_-_21_june.pdf

In a recent chat about how to progress the cave biology recording in the UK, I was educated about several different aspects to cave Biology. Apparently there are classifications to cave biology: Entrance Zone, Twilight zone and The Dark Zone.
 This was news to me, but in light of this, I guess it would make sense to improve the biodiversity of the caves by opening up more Habitats in the North East Wales area, but I guess it's difficult to know if you are destroying a Habitat further into the cave by introducing a draft.
 If we open up new Habitats then this will give the Bats displaced by Quarrying in the Local area somewhere to live in relative Peace and quiet.

Offline MJenkinson

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2017, 01:37:02 pm »
.......... Twilight zone and The Dark Zone.
 .......but in light of this,

ba boom tish.

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2017, 11:20:23 pm »
Cambrian Caving Council is holding an Open Meeting from 11am on Sunday 23rd July at Tretower Village Hall.  Satnav to NP8 1RF or to gridref SO186213.  Please park near the castle entrance and not close to residences.  Coffee/tea will be provided but please bring your own lunch.  I’d appreciate an email to my address on the Cambrian website if you plan to attend.

The agenda for this meeting is:
1) to share information about the Welsh Government’s (WG) consultation on future open access legislation for Wales, including what was said at the National Access Forum Wales (NAFW) meeting on Tues 11th July and the Welsh sports representative bodies meeting called by the BMC/Ramblers being held immediately after NAFW;
2) to develop a lobby strategy and written materials that can be made available online and incorporated into written responses to the WG consultation exercise by CCC and caving clubs and individual cavers.

The title of the WG public consultation is Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, which is quite wide-ranging.  Chapter Four is the core of it concerning statutory responsible access for recreation, and is available here:
https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/taking-forward-wales-sustainable-management-natural-resources

What is being proposed by WG includes the repeal of part of Schedule 2 of the CRoW Act which lists those recreations that are NOT currently allowed on Access Land, e.g. swimming, riding on or being accompanied by a horse, kayaking.  As caving is not on the Schedule 2 ‘banned list’ we cannot ask for it to be ‘unbanned’, which implies that caving is already ‘allowed’ under CRoW.  Except in the mind of NRW.

NRW’s objections to ‘CRoW caving’ are not on grounds of conservation or public safety  (they have confirmed as recently as April 2017 this is not the case) but merely how narrowly one could or should interpret the words used in CRoW.  As CRoW applies to “open-air recreation” NRW argues that caving is not an open-air activity.  The new consultation refers to “outdoors recreation” instead, as in the WG’s ideas “to develop a coherent system for outdoor recreation, which allows for a broad range of non-motorised recreation on paths, open country and inland water”.  So it is not hard to imagine that NRW will next be claiming that caving is not done in the “outdoors” and that caves are not an integral part of “open country” such as the Brecon Beacons, and continue to do their level best to use vocabulary obstructively.

The consultation document says “Welsh Government has identified a number of areas to be improved in order to deliver a better and fairer approach to public access for outdoor recreation. The aim is to develop an approach which is less burdensome to administer, provides for the wide range of activities that people can take part in, with sensible safeguards … It is about increasing access for all non-motorised activities … flexible provision for different activities, and to allow sensible safeguards for land management and wildlife… supported by a consistent approach to access across land and water … To help improve the opportunities for activity tourism and the options available for people to participate in outdoor recreation near to where they live… To develop a statutory code for access to the outdoors for recreation similar to that already in place in Scotland … We are of the view that Wales can learn from the approach taken by Scotland…”

If caving is to get the "better and fairer treatment" the consultation calls for, then we need to ensure Assembly Members discuss it favourably during the debates, which means contacting and informing them.  We also need to lobby for words like “land” and “open country” being defined legally as including caves, and for “outdoors” to be defined as “not in a building” rather than “somewhere you can be rained upon” which I have heard was one of DEFRA’s interpretations of the term "open-air".

There is a lot to talk about at this CCC meeting.  So please give this some thought, talk to your caving friends and your club if you are a member, then come along to share and create ideas.

Stuart France
Access/Conservation Officer
Cambrian Caving Council


Offline Jenny P

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2017, 03:01:11 pm »
It is worth noting that, in all the fuss about whether caving is or is not an outdoor recreation, that in the early days of NCA in 1972 the Sports Council placed caving in the "Outdoor Pursuits Division".  In all the assorted variations of the Sports Council, CCPR, etc. this never changed - caving was always an "Outdoor Pursuit".

This tallies with the system used by what was then the East Midlands Sports Council in dealing with DCA representatives when they divided up the various sports so that the various forums could talk together sensibly;  e.g. they had sports using indoor facilities (gymnastics, badminton, etc.); water sports (canoeing, swimming, etc.).  They had "Sports using Natural Facilities", into which they put rambling, climbing, caving, etc. - in other words, all the "outdoor sports".

So caving has always, in the minds of the Sports Councils, been part of "outdoor pursuits" or sometimes "Outdoor Sport and Recreation" or "open air sport and recreation".

It can't logically be anything else but an "outdoor sport", because it certainly isn't an "indoor sport"!

It's therefore doubly frustrating to find Defra, NRW, arguing black is white to avoid the common sense view so that they can, for whatever arcane reasons of their own, exclude caving.

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2017, 10:02:32 pm »
Thanks Jenny.

I will write to NRW's in-house solicitor (Stuart Lyon) and ask if NRW think that caving is an "outdoor recreation":  yes, no, we don't know, we won't say.

I will also ask if NRW think caves are part of "open country" such as the Brecon Beacons and urban commons like Mynydd Llangynidr in the context of opportunities to participate in outdoor pursuits.

Can anyone suggest other questions to ask NRW which will reveal any anti-caving interpretations of the specific vocabulary used in the Welsh Government's access consultation paper and therefore what particular words and phrases are likely to be carried forward into future legislation?

It could be important to point out in responses to the WG consultation, if it is the case, that NRW had already adopted a new obstructive position on caving access even before new legislation is on the table by once again playing around with the meaning of words to suit their "arcane" logic, as Jenny puts it.

Offline manrabbit

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2017, 10:57:55 pm »
Caving, an outdoor activity?....NRW seems to think it is..

Page 16   :read:

https://naturalresources.wales/media/4757/wales-outdoor-recreation-survey-2014-final-report.pdf
You don't stop caving because you get old, you get old because you stop caving.

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2017, 01:55:27 pm »
No only that, they appear to lump rock climbing and caving together. Nice find.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2017, 01:59:05 pm »
You may wish to consider whether NRW support any unjustified barriers to participation for visitors who wish to go caving.  I expect as the regional representative of caving in Wales that you do and you should question why NRW are at odds with the representatives on this.

In my area we have done some research on participation levels and the value of caving to the rural economy.  This was little understood but as you know this is of interest to NRW.  Participation includes all those who go caving on an instructed trip and in the Dales is around 50,000 -70,000 individuals per year.  If we assume that there is an increase in participation in Wales but a decline in people pursuing the sport further, as we conclude here, then it is right to question what role NRW might play in this.  Do they actively encourage caving as a recreational activity in Wales and how?  Are they indifferent or do they actively discourage caving by their positions and policy?  I leave that up to you to consider but it may be a difficult question for them to answer in front of other outdoor organisations.

If you are prepared to do the research and the maths it is obvious that caving is good for the rural economy where it takes place.  Something around 4 million a year in the Dales.  This is small compared to other activities until you realise that it is often targeted in very specific locations where it does have an impact.  Also worthy of note is that caving is less seasonable than many other activities so can provide throughout the year in some locations.  What is NRW doing to boost the rural economy as far as caving is concerned?

I expect you will find that NRW have some statutory duties which they are not fulfilling where caving is concerned. 

Posted publicly as I expect many cavers may be interested in the broader points.
Good luck with the meeting and consultation.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2017, 03:44:22 pm »
The numbers are interesting. Do we think that the 50,000-70,000 tallies with similar numbers of participation in South wales?
 (Porth-yr-Ogof, Ogof-Ffynnon-Du and Little Neath?)

I believe there could be an increase to a tenth of the above figure in North Wales (ie. 5,000-7,000 [or 100 per week])

I believe there are already popular venues, so it would be interesting to hear from Pete K or from M. Richards (wales), on what they think current figures are like. (and therefore whether my figures are already too low for the CAVES (not mines) of north wales)

Offline marysboy

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 11:01:27 am »
outdoor = outside a building.

literally, on the outside of the building door.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/outdoors

surely it's obvious most caving is not inside a building. (gates a moot point.)

Offline Simon Wilson

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2017, 11:56:01 am »
The word in the legislation is "open-air" not outdoor. Not quite so clear-cut unfortunately.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2017, 12:15:56 pm »
I believe there are already popular venues, so it would be interesting to hear from Pete K or from M. Richards (wales), on what they think current figures are like. (and therefore whether my figures are already too low for the CAVES (not mines) of north wales)

ok, i'll relax my conditions, what about those mines too M. Richards (wales) and Pete K?
 Any idea what weekly, monthly or annual figures are like there?

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Welsh Government to legislate on Recreational Access
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2017, 04:48:30 pm »
ask miles(from go-below) what his numbers . might have to go on aditnow to get a response from him