Sorry to hear that news Dave. So are we truly back to the old situation?, or is there a certain way that we should all behave to maximise the chances of a return to a satisfactory access agreement?Chris.
What is CAL please?
Could be good business for anyone selling camouflage oversuits?
The directors of Cave Access Ltd (CAL) were told on 24/11/21 without any notice in a Zoom meeting with NRW that NRW has unilaterally terminated CAL's mine access agreement with immediate effect.CAL's scheme had been operating successfully for about 6 years without any concerns being voiced. But we are now told that NRW requires strong proof of compliance with statutory requirements across its estate. NRW said its main concern is ensuring that bats are not disturbed which seemed to revolve around the SSSI status of land. Essentially we were told that if the land was not an SSSI then bats are not an issue. This demonstrates a failure by NRW staff to understand bats protection is on a national basis and the SSSI status of particular pieces of land neither adds to nor subtracts from that national-level bat protection which applies no matter where the bats are located. There needs to be more clarity here.Despite this massive quango being created to integrate environmental management, NRW has divided itself into six operational areas and so no longer has a holistic view of Wales. So sadly the all-Wales access agreement we have enjoyed will need replacing with up to six separate agreements that cover our mines of interest split up by NRW operational areas. We have agreed with NRW to work on a solution to their North West Wales area first and once that is deemed a success then to try to replicate it in other areas, but this requires cooperation from five other Land Management Team Leaders which is clearly not a given and we may end up with many different access agreements tailored to these employees.NRW asked CAL to pay for mine surveys done by professional bat ecologists at various times of the year, to be repeated in future years as necessary. This is infeasible for a voluntary non-funded group like CAL to embrace. So we told NRW that if they held to this idea then we would not attempt to renew the access scheme, leaving them at a dead end.We suggested to NRW that installing electronic footfall counters (to count all groups using the mines and not just CAL visitors) and electronic bat activity monitors running all year around provided on a voluntary basis would provide a clearer wider picture and be more accountable than infrequent visits by paid-for consultants writing snapshot style reports.CAL is not the only organisation affected by this change. Outdoor Pursuits Centres will also be affected along with underground adventure companies. Unfortunately NRW is requiring each group to commission its own professional bat surveys even if the surveys done by other groups exist and are in NRW's possession. So, for example, if several local authorities want to use a mine then all will need to purchase independent bat surveys which concern the very same mine and the cost of this would fall on each local authority. NRW would then have multiple bat surveys for the same site. For NRW's purposes, CAL cannot utilise bat surveys commissioned by others and simply reference them as prior art.Unfortunately there will be no access through CAL for explorers anywhere on NRW's estate whilst CAL endeavours to work with NRW to find a workable solution for their North West Area first. We think this may take a year if NRW is cooperative and flexible. If not, then CAL may wind up and NRW would then be left with no obvious lines of communication with mine explorers in the caving community.Conversely mine explorers in the caving world would have no practical way to obtain permissive access from NRW resulting in a return to the status quo ante which was unregulated, unaccounted for and unconsented activity.I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news For and on behalf of the CAL directors,Dave Tyson
Does this affect access to caves? or just mines? Should we all invest in ghillie suits?Will this affect the AALS insurance for taking groups?
Quote from: lumenchild on November 25, 2021, 02:29:56 pmDoes this affect access to caves? or just mines? Should we all invest in ghillie suits?Will this affect the AALS insurance for taking groups? Just mines on the CAL list (mainly slate/lead)Outdoor groups are affected as NRW have barred their access as well.I think Go-Below still have access to Rhiwbach as they funded a bat survey of the mine just after the Covid restrictions were relaxed.Dave
I understand CAL no longer has an access remit and so no authority to grant accessHowever: Question.... Suppose - someone decided, permission or not, they were going to enter a site formerly access managed by CALIf they *retrospectively* notified CAL (note the retrospective, not asking CAL to endorse access) would that be beneficial for CAL to know about trips so they can demonstrate that people are still using these sites?Or would CAL prefer not to hear about "trespassing"?EDIT: hmmmm.. actually in theory isn't there a bylaw prohibiting entering mines on NRW land, maybe reporting a trip could be a liability?
EDIT: hmmmm.. actually in theory isn't there a bylaw prohibiting entering mines on NRW land, maybe reporting a trip could be a liability?
It’s a major shame such selfish people have been going without using the permit system it only took 5 minutes and the information passed on helped make it a safer system of mine exploring for others . It’s always the way though the decent people suffer because of the others .
Either way, this isn't good news for cavers. Back to dressing like a rambler then
Quote from: Cantclimbtom on November 25, 2021, 03:05:56 pmEDIT: hmmmm.. actually in theory isn't there a bylaw prohibiting entering mines on NRW land, maybe reporting a trip could be a liability?Yes there is, and bit of history. Back in the 1980s there was a rescue call out to Rhiwbach whereby a woman slipped on the incline and injured her back. The leader was taking payed for trips to complicate matters, and was prosecuted and fined under what was then, before devolution, Forestry Wales Bye Laws.In other words, get caught and you could get done.
I don't think the CROW situation would give access to mines anyway?
Does this affect the classic Cwm Croesor trip?
...and I suspect that there's not going to be much that comes to their attention.
Quote from: notdavidgilmour on November 25, 2021, 05:38:52 pmEither way, this isn't good news for cavers. Back to dressing like a rambler then I'm going to dress like a caver. If I get caught, I will put on an Australian accent and ask if they know the way to Adelaide.Chris.
If it's of use (probably not in this instance), I know a number of licenced bat ecologists, one of whom does quite a number of underground surveys. I'm happy to have an off-the-record chat if it might be helpful.The issue is that ecologists generally tend to prefer to arse-cover when it comes to bats, so they might not provide the pragmatic advice we are looking for.
Seems to be caused by things like this:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/870150/FOI2019_10351_Response_Redacted.pdfWhich don't seem to relate just to SSSI's:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/bat_reports_at_county_hall_mold
Quote from: mikem on Yesterday at 08:37:28 pmSeems to be caused by things like this:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/870150/FOI2019_10351_Response_Redacted.pdfWhich don't seem to relate just to SSSI's:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/bat_reports_at_county_hall_moldI think this exactly highlights the problems NRW is up against. I would strongly defend the FOI legislation but it can be abused by individuals as it costs nothing to submit requests and cause mischief. Maybe requests should cost a nominal amount, say £25, which would discourage multiple malicious requests. I could understand a bat hugger being concerned if building work is disturbing bats, but I know the historical society which looks after Rhydymwn have had real problems with people raising objections to access to any of the buildings - just in case there was a bat present. The society were trying to train up a member so that they could assess the situation themselves - but this proved very problematic and both DEFRA and NRW were less than helpful. I don't know what the answer is here, but I think that requests for information need to be logged with the identity of the person so that it is clear to others if this is a genuine concern or just making trouble.Interestingly bats in mines in England don't seem to cause the same level of problems.Dave
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