Author Topic: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left  (Read 2801 times)

Offline Stuart France

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The Welsh Government launched this public consultation on 21 June with the enchanging title of “Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources” it has a closing date of 30 September for public response letters/emails.  So just 25 days left to put your pen to paper.  You can download it from here:

https://consultations.gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultation_doc_files/170728-sustainable-management-natural-resources-consultation-document-en.pdf

Cambrian Caving Council have been thinking hard about this complex 98-page document for a while and we held an open meeting in July (thanks to those who attended) and we have written a detailed response similar in size and scope to other sports governing bodies like cycling.  You can get our full 20-page response plus a 3-page "quick" summary of it for cavers at the CCC homepage www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk

Government says that the number public responses they receive will be important (that means from individual cavers plus club committees etc) and that they will definitely read it all and drill down into the detail of what people have written to them.  Cyclists have already submitted 2000+ proforma responses via the cyclinguk website which I have to say is highly organised and slick, and all it takes to support caving futures is a simple short positive letter or email sent from you.

To make our lives easier, if people agree with Cambrian’s logic, we have provided a template letter as a Word file which cavers can cut and paste and send as it is, or in some adapted form, as an email or a paper letter of  to the WG before the end of September.  Here is our template letter:

www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/WG31881_Sep_2017/caverlettertemplate.doc

People living in England who also visit Wales to go caving are also encouraged to send in a letter/email too because Wales wants to position itself as a top world destination for outdoors pursuits and to bring income into its countryside areas to make their rural communities sustainable.

The WG sees both access and conservation as big issues, so much of the early part of this government document, while open to a vast range of interpretations which makes it quite hard to comment, is clearly aimed at protecting the natural and heritage environment and well-being of future generations while balancing that need against the need for leisure opportunity provision and economic viability in rural areas.

We expect this to develop into a formal White Paper in a year or two, followed by new legislation further down the line.  But your opportunity to comment and request features in any new legislation or a statutory code of conduct for the outdoors is now only 25 days.  Remember that the Scottish Code of Conduct says explicitly that "you can exercise access rights ... in caves".  Asking for a simple statement like that would end all the NRW semantic nonsense over what legislative terms like "open-air" and "outdoors" mean here in Wales.

On a wider front, an Access Alliance has been formed, currently between cyclists, walkers, climbers, horse riders, disabled countryside users, the Open Spaces Society and cavers, to present a united recreational vision to the WG – as far as that is possible.  So there is a brand new website under development at www.outdooraccesswales.org which will take visitors to the individual sports’ campaign websites in a week or two when everyone, myself included, has got round to creating one.  The Alliance will also start issuing regular press statements (i.e. "an Alliance spokesman said…") to keep the topic of better access alive.

Apologies for another long post, but it seems to go with the access-conservation territory.

Stuart France
Cambrian Caving Council

« Last Edit: September 06, 2017, 11:11:28 pm by Stuart France »

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2017, 11:39:54 pm »
Brilliant post ... well done for the benefit of ALL Welsh cavers (and visitors).

I have adopted the template letter.

 :)

Ian
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2017, 07:03:01 am »
Would like to read of examples of judicious applications of existing legislation which will provide enhanced conservation.

Offline Dave Tyson

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2017, 10:18:55 am »
I have mailed a note around the CCC member clubs asking their secretaries and membership to respond to the consultation.

Dave
[acting CCC Secretary]

Offline Long Drop

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2017, 04:22:42 pm »
One of our club members has e-mailed me as follows...

"This might be an issue?
The email address supplied on the template letter doesn't exist.

The actual address is naturalresourcemanagement@wales.gsi.gov.uk, there is no 's' after 'resource'.

This might need circulating otherwise our responses may not get through!"


Offline Stuart France

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2017, 07:53:28 pm »
Would like to read of examples of judicious applications of existing legislation which will provide enhanced conservation.

Natural England said, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that I submitted to them, that they had used Section 26 of the CROW Act about 90 times to enforce conservation measures, but none of those instances involved caves.   I've not asked NRW officially via an FOIR, but I've been told informally that NRW has never used Section 26 for anything.  Always a first time.

As noted in Cambrian's response, there is no shortage of statutory conservation measures available in existing legislation predating the CROW Act 2000 - and also coming after it, as in the Habitat Regulations 2010.  Just a matter of folks being willing to use the tools that have been provided.


Offline Dave Tyson

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2017, 08:29:00 pm »
One of our club members has e-mailed me as follows...

"This might be an issue?
The email address supplied on the template letter doesn't exist.

The actual address is naturalresourcemanagement@wales.gsi.gov.uk, there is no 's' after 'resource'.

This might need circulating otherwise our responses may not get through!"
Sorry for the typo - I have asked Barry to update the website with a revised document with the correction.

Thanks for pointing it out!

Cheers,
Dave


Online royfellows

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2017, 04:04:51 pm »
I have just sent my letter of as an attachment in jpeg format.

I modified the template, not too easy as MS Word likes to do things its way and not the users way, (a pdf with entry fields a bit better Dave?) so address went all over the place. Eventually got it right. Printed it off, signed it, and then scanned it, but used Photoshop to resize the scan down about 50% to reduce the file size.

Big attachments sometimes dont get through, as most of us will know.

I would say, and no disrespect to those who disagree with this initiative, that a lot of time has been put in by Stuart and his associates on this. If you agree, then the least anyone can do to support them is to ensure the letter goes in right.
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Offline Badlad

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 12:08:26 pm »
Bump

I've sent mine off by post.  The CCC approach seems sensible and well laid out.  It would be good for caving if as many as possible could respond.  Thanks to all involved for putting this together.

Offline Stuart France

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Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 15 days left - do it!
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 09:32:33 pm »
Only 15 or so days left now to send in your personal response to Welsh Government.

I've just posted off the "absolutely final" version of the Cambrian's official response today and the download available now on the Cambrian website reflects that version.  This factors in cavers' comments that we received on the version we posted there for the past week.  I've made some small additions and changes for clarity mainly, rather than matters of substance, but I have beefed up our sentiments on outdoor education and instructor access to caves for professional development - thanks to Gethin for the fine words.  Martyn Farr's covering letter which highlighted our "asks" was positioned at the front of the nicely printed full response sent to Cardiff today.

http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/WG31881_Sep_2017/WG31811response.pdf

We now want as many cavers as possible to send in personal supportive statements, and a draft letter with some material to cut/paste/adapt into a fairly brief personal letter or email and the address to send it to is at:

http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/WG31881_Sep_2017/caverlettertemplate.doc

Yes, I know the folder name in the above links has the wrong document number, but I can't alter it, and best not to fix it now as it actually works.

Make sure your home address is clearly stated.  Cavers with home addresses in England can say they come to Wales for caving weekends or longer, and how nice it is for doing outdoors activities here, etc.  People with addresses in Wales can highlight that provision of better access opportunity for the Welsh People is as important as bringing in more tourist income from further afield.  All cavers can also do the decent thing and support the cyclists, climbers, ramblers, kayakers etc by mentioning these as extra activities they might do here which would also benefit from improvements to public access.

The number of personal responses that WG receives is very important in raising the profile of caving as a recreation and caves as national heritage.  Please send in your comments too!

Thanks

Stuart France
Cambrian Caving Council

Offline MJenkinson

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2017, 09:28:53 am »
Letter sent on behalf of our club.

Offline Stuart France

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Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - 9 days left to comment
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 11:39:40 pm »
An Alliance formed between cavers, ramblers, climbers, equestrians, cyclists, paddlers, open spaces society, disabled ramblers, open MTB, has issued a press release and launched its new joint website today at:

https://www.outdooraccesswales.org/

This exists to demonstrate unity to the Welsh Government amongst outdoors sports governing bodies and keep the issue live as time passes.  It is a launch pad that directs inquirers to the alliance members' own websites for specific information, and I have started to set up one for the cave access campaign here:

http://caveaccess.co.uk/

It's a one-page pony at the moment but more stuff will be added.  The caveaccess site used to hold the CAL Mine Access Scheme online materials.  A link from there that takes you to their new location at:

http://caveaccess.co.uk/mines/

Please send in a personal letter or email to Welsh Government in the next nine days backing Cambrian Caving Council's call for better statutory access to go caving in Wales.  Closure date 30th September.  A template letter and addressing info is at the caveaccess.co.uk site.  Every letter will be read and counts.  Whatever statutory access improvements are eventually delivered in Wales can only help the cave access situation in England too.  So please write that short supportive letter or email this weekend wherever you live.

Stuart France


Offline zomjon

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2017, 09:40:53 am »
People are probably fully aware of this, but once again, there is that group within caving circles who are trying their hardest to scupper every initiative they see as threatening. This was posted on Facebook a few days ago:

'Letter sent to the Welsh Government this weekend (Thanks to *******) for providing a template to work from):
Natural Resource Management Team
Cathays Park
Pillar J08, East Core
Cardiff CF10 3NQ
naturalresourcemanagement@wales.gsi.gov.uk
Dear Sir/Madam,
I write with regard to the Welsh Government Consultation Document WG31811 and specifically that part that concerns extending public rights for non-motorised recreation in the countryside.
I am a member of a caving society that regularly visits caves in South Wales, .
I understand from social media, especially the online forum, UKCaving (owned and run by a pro-Countryside and Rights of Way lobbyist who has banned contributors who hold differing views and hence is able to skew opinion by dint of blanket censorship of dissenting opinions), that you are likely to receive a large number of pro-forma letters endorsing the Cambrian Caving Council’s submission to the Welsh Government (available online at:
www.cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/WG31811response.pdf). This wave of submissions has been urged without consideration for public safety or cave conservation, seeking solely to benefit people whose only interest is their own ease of access without any responsibilities to look after the fragile and vulnerable geological environment.
Their argument broadly states that there needs to be statutory recognition that caves are part of the outdoors and that caving is just as much an open-air, outdoor recreation as walking and rock climbing. This is nonsense - caves are most definitely not open-air.
Worse, to consider caving in the same vein as walking or rock climbing is to completely overlook the massive ecological differences - open air surfaces subject to plant growth and normal weathering are polar opposites from undisturbed pristine sediments in million+ year old cave passages where a single footstep will remain intact for a thousand years or more; the surface can "mend" itself but the cave cannot. The disingenuous nature of the campaigners who are urging lobbying you also extends to a shocking sentence, namely "I understand that there is a need for conservation measures but believe that existing law can protect the few highly valuable sites if applied judiciously". This is complete bunkum. Caves cannot be protected by "judicious application" of law; they can only be protected by restrictions on access combined with education and enforcement. This is something I have fst-hand experience of through the protection of fragile and vulnerable medieval underground quarry workings . To attempt to argue for open access on the one hand with a simultaneous improvement in conservation and safety on the other is breath-taking in its dishonesty.
I ask you not to be swayed by this skewed and underhand campaign.'
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 09:52:41 am by zomjon »

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2017, 09:47:36 am »
Now I wonder who that could be?

Ahem.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2017, 11:22:42 am »
That is potentially libellous.
A door, once opened, may be stepped through in either direction.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2017, 02:10:37 pm »
Administrator Comment With reference to comments made in the above template letter about ukcaving please note the following.

Cavers of all political views are welcome to use this forum - and they do.  The author of the above letter is incorrect and the letter rather "breath taking in its dishonesty" to use its own term. 

To put the record straight [again]. Two people are banned from this forum who hold strongly anti-access views but they are not banned because of their views they are banned because of their behaviour on the forum, ignoring repeated warnings on breaking forum rules. 

During the same period two others have been permanently banned who hold strong pro-access views.  Again, these bans are not because of those views but because they have been in clear breach of forum rules.

In addition, a couple of regular forum users who are known to hold pro-access views have served temporary bans for breaches of forum rules.  The fact is that very few people have been banned from this forum since we took it over, less I would suggest than under previous owners.  It is not about the views people hold it is about how people conduct themselves on the forum and that, we believe, has improved in recent years.

The letter states that I am a pro-CRoW lobbyist but fails to mention that I undertake this role on behalf of the British Caving Association where my position is heavily scrutinised by both BCA council and members.  While we are here and for the record my main motivation on access is to remove barriers to participation and reverse the decline in our sport, that is why I am personally pro-access.  I don't need access to caves myself I am experienced enough to have all the contacts to go anywhere I want, it is others, especially those just starting to cave that I am thinking of.

I expect the author of the letter fears that they are losing the argument and so wishes to lash out at those who make those arguments.  I've suffered a number of personal attacks from the anti-access clique on social media and the like. I try to ignore them and get on with what I do, which is;

I've been an active [and obsessive] caver since I was fifteen years old, and now I am older I have a little bit more time to get involved in other aspects of caving.  With Pegasus, I took over Ukcaving for the benefit of caving as the two climbers who previously owned it had no interest in it themselves.  We put in considerable effort to maintain the site.  In addition, I am the elected access officer for the CNCC and am working with local landowners and authorities to improve and promote caving in the Dales areas - with some success.  I am keen to reverse the decline in active caving and am therefore behind several initiatives to both promote and encourage people into our great sport.  The Newtocaving website is one such initiative as is my recent involvement with the Kendal Mountain Festival.  I still do a lot of caving, sporting trips and digging, conservation work locally as detailed on this forum and foreign caving trips and expeditions.  I don't know where I find the time

I am sure the template letter is libellous, but I'll let everyone make up their own mind as to where the truth lies.




Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2017, 02:41:23 pm »
.... but fails to mention that I undertake this role on behalf of the British Caving Association where my position is heavily scrutinised by both BCA council and members.


This could be construed in a much more serious manner than just the personal attack you refer to.  Specifically, as you are the designated officer of the BCA and are fulfilling your obligations; it could be seen as an attack on your office, an attack on the BCA and an attack on the democratic will of the membership (and an attack on democratic platform of the BCA itself).

It is not that long ago that such "treason" would be met with capital punishment if such things were held against the country where a person subsisted.

I think the author is very lucky you are being as generous as you are in not pursing it.

Ian
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Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2017, 06:23:39 pm »
I think it only fair and proper to name  and shame the author  :thumbsup:

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2017, 07:02:01 pm »
I think it only fair and proper to name  and shame the author  :thumbsup:

If the letter was posted on social media and authored it is perfectly correct to reproduce it in whole here.
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Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2017, 11:16:55 pm »
I think we all know who it was, even though I can't find the facearse post. Who will be first to break cover and name? I do recall an user on AN saying 'Thanks for the Template' about a week ago. Circumstantial maybe ?

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2017, 11:37:22 pm »
My money is on
PETER BURGESS  :spank: :spank: :spank:

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2017, 11:46:46 pm »
Naughty, naughty...

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Offline andrewmc

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2017, 09:10:34 am »
This is a public consultation, drawing the opinion from members of the public. It is entirely right and proper that interest groups, such as the CCC, write on their own behalf to represent the overall opinions of their members. It is also right and proper that they encourage individuals to do so as well.

Everyone has the right to respond freely, regardless of their opinions, and I would defend the right of any caver to write what they believe.

Writing comes with a responsibility, however: a few dissonant opinions can wreck what others are trying to achieve. Those throwing spanners in a glass works should take great consideration before acting if they are potentially going to ruin it for everyone else.

There aren't right or wrong answers here, but I would say caving can only operate by consensus, and that sometimes requires an appreciation of the bigger picture.

If you still feel a need to respond negatively to this campaign, then do so, even though many would prefer you wouldn't.

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Re: Welsh Government Recreational Access Consultation - just 25 days left
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2017, 09:40:09 am »
Writing comes with a responsibility, however: a few dissonant opinions can wreck what others are trying to achieve.

That is exactly what they are trying to achieve.

They don't care what the majority want, they care about retaining the status quo, about "keeping power". They have no issues telling lies, manipulating statistics and putting their "spin" on things. It's sickening that they try to paint themselves as victims while doing this stuff. They keep on painting us as irresponsible oafs that will willingly wreck a cave environment, as if only they can have access *and* conserve it, and all cavers should find that hugely insulting.

I have no issues with people having a differing view on the way forwards, but I have a huge issue with lying, cheating and pulling underhanded tricks to further their campaign. That is the cause of almost all of the animosity this subject generates.
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