Author Topic: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA  (Read 3976 times)

Offline Badlad

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CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« on: January 11, 2016, 09:52:12 pm »
In light of other threads, posts and questions about CRoW today, the CRoW liaison officers report to Saturdays BCA Council meeting may answer several of the questions posed.  I confess it is rather long and may not be everyone's bedtime reading but a few might be interested.  It is worth noting that this report was accepted by Council with all for, none against and no abstentions.

CRoW Liason Officer Report to Council – January 2016.

Actions from the 10th October Council meeting

1.   Concerns had been raised by NAMHO over how CRoW may affect access to mines.  I liaised with NAMHO and conducted some further research with the assistance of Council members and was able to send them a letter to put in front of their next meeting.  It is hoped that the letter would alleviate some of the concerns mine enthusiasts held over CRoW. 

2.   I have continued my research into the value of caving to our rural economies with some progress.  This is opportune as on 28th October, David Rutley, MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mountaineering managed to secure a Westminster Hall debate on the ‘economic value of outdoor recreation’.  This lobbying has benefited all outdoor interests and managed to get outdoor recreation firmly written into the new ‘Strategy for Sport’. http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=19633.msg252332;topicseen#new  This focusses more on the benefits of physical activity rather than just sport, where the well-being of participants is valued as much as sporting success.  Amongst other factors the strategy will need to bring together government departments such as Health, Sport, Local Government and Environment.  This is far too big an issue to be covered in this report but there are great opportunities here for caving, significantly the timing of the BCA access campaign over the next few years.  As for the value of caving to our rural economies I have focussed on the northern caving region.  Here, preliminary study of fact and estimate show a value between £3-4million per year (excluding  commercial businesses such as outdoor shops and show caves).  Extrapolated across all caving regions it is easy to see that this would amount to £10million per year and have a significant effect on the specific areas frequented by cavers.

3.   I have also looked into offering advice to our Access Controlling Bodies on the Defra interpretation of CRoW.  I liaised with the BCA administrator on timing so that the advice could be sent out with renewals.  This did not leave me enough time especially as the idea has developed.  Having spoken with our access group and members of the exec it has been suggested that this should be expanded to include advice on; section 26 restriction, bats, the BCA campaign, reassurances to landowners and their liability.  I hope to work on this with colleagues in time for the next Council meeting although it has been suggested to issue the final guidance through C&A.

Ongoing Work

1.   I have continued with my efforts to gather wide ranging support for BCA’s position on CRoW.  This has involved contacting other outdoor affiliated bodies and lobbying MP’s and the authorities.  In addition to the access campaign I have also used the opportunity to promote caving and encourage a more positive image of our sport.  This has been welcomed and embraced by all who I have met.

2.   As a caver local to the Yorkshire Dales I have, over the last few years, attended a number of meetings of both the Yorkshire Dales and Lancashire Local Access Forums (LAF) in order to boost the profile of caving in my area and to highlight various local access issues.  The LAF is the statutory consulting body set up under the CRoW Act and comprises an equal mix of landowners, business interests and outdoor groups.  It would be this body that government consults over any access issues so it is important to explain our case to these forums where possible.   My attendance at the LAF and the issues I have raised have been warmly received and has led to the opportunity to take the issue to the wider national LAF.  I now intend to follow this up in my role as BCA CRoW officer.

3.   I have continued to liaise with other outdoor groups as indicated in my previous report.  All have been supportive.  I have had some conversations with David Rutley MP in his role as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mountaineering and with the BMC as the group’s secretary.  This has all been very positive and has led to me being invited to attend a meeting with outdoor access specialists, which I shall attend in London next month.  This contact also helped me to organise the VIP caving trip mentioned below.

4.   I also met with my local MP, Julian Smith where we discussed promoting the value of caving to the local area, some local access issues and the wider BCA campaign.  As a government whip Mr Smith cannot get involved in the campaign directly but has offered to write to the Secretary of State on our behalf.  Council will remember that senior conservative MP, David Davis also wrote to the Secretary of State on our behalf.  His advice as an experienced politician was to keep doing what we are doing, by gathering support and not going away.  By chance a caving colleague, and supporter of the BCA campaign met the Secretary of State at a social event.  He was able to brief her first hand on our campaign.  This contact will hopefully stand us in good stead for the future.  Mr Smith has since written to inform me that he heard very positive things from his parliamentary colleagues about the caving trip (below) and that where the opportunity arose in Westminster he would do all he could to promote caving. 

5.   With the help of colleagues I organised a VIP caving trip to Gaping Ghyll in the Yorkshire dales.  The trip had two purposes, one to demonstrate the positive benefits of caving to both the participants and the local community, and the second to discuss the issues surrounding CRoW and caver access.  Our VIP’s had a great day out and were very helpful and supportive of BCA.  The press release explains the trip in more detail:


6.   I have kept myself informed of the on-going access dispute at Drws Cefn/Ogof Draenen.  Without wishing to make any comment on the dispute itself the situation has escalated to a point where the outcome may have wider implications and possible impact on the BCA.  I am certainly no expert in law but my observations are as follows; The entrance to Drws Cefn is on access land as defined by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.  As such and in view of other legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 there are procedures which need to be followed by local authority and landowners.  It is my understanding that any citizen or NGO may challenge the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body by the Judicial Review process and that is what seems to be happening here.  There are strict time limits which affect Judicial Review and the solicitor’s letter referred to in this case may just be part of the pre-action protocol.  The review takes place before a judge in the Administrative Court and is concerned only that the correct procedures have been followed rather than that the decision was correct.   It is possible to apply to the court for a Cost Protection Order, but normally the loser bears all the costs.  There is also the risk that the case may be won but the public body may make the same decision again so long as they do so in a lawful way.  In my view a decision has yet to be made which can be challenged by Judicial Review.  I suggest the BCA continue as it is whilst keeping an eye on any future developments.

7.   At the beginning of December I participated in a WebEx online meeting with members of the BCA exec and access team.  I brought everyone up to date with the campaign.  The secretary may wish to report further on this meeting.

8.   The following ‘strap lines’ have been suggested by various members which summarise the BCA campaign.  They all state pretty much the same thing.  Do Council agree with the summary?
We are – Campaigning to change DEFRA's interpretation of the CRoW Act and its application to caving to reflect what we believe was Parliament's original intention.
We are - Campaigning to change the DEFRA guidance on how CRoW applies to caving, within the existing law, as we believe parliament intended.
This is - BCA’s campaign to confirm existing access rights under CRoW do cover caving.
This is - BCA’s campaign to confirm that existing access rights under CRoW do cover caving – as Parliament always intended.

Tim Allen
January 2016


Offline cavemanmike

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 10:23:45 pm »
like i said on another thread give the man time and he will come up with the goods.
TA DAH  :bow: :bow: :bow:
just a matter of time if you ask me .
 it's nice to see these threads taking on a civil manner lately with less if non mud slinging( there's enough mud underground thanks)

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 11:28:11 pm »
Excellent, Thank you Tim for the continued hard work  :thumbsup:

Ian
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Offline Clive G

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 12:04:36 am »
Great work Tim!
*  :)  *
 

Offline droid

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2016, 07:26:35 pm »
Interesting reading.

Thanks for posting that. Irrespective of any personal feelings, I have to say that at least there is now communication between the two 'factions' in this debate that doesn't (always) involve browbeating and ridicule.
No longer 'Exceptionally antagonistic' 'Deliberately inflammatory'

Offline Wayland Smith

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2016, 09:21:49 am »
I think that everyone should remember that if (when) the issue of CROW legislation returns to parliament
They will not just be looking at caving!

There is just as big an issue with access to rivers and waterways. The canoeing lobby is even more vocal, but not reported here.
There are probably more specialized interest groups that want changes that we have not heard of.

Online thomasr

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2016, 08:03:31 pm »
Indeed. Navigation and travel along rivers is as ancient as the use of  footpaths and roads. Continents being openened up and explored  [ for better or for worse ] yet in England a landowner owning both banks is able to stop navigation on quite substantial streams and rivers much to the shagrin of small boat owners These generally being the smaller poorer cousin to the vast leisure fishing industry

Offline royfellows

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2016, 08:19:24 pm »
This is just a suggestion for the benefit of those who wish to see CROW apply to caving.

Would it not be a good idea all special interest groups to pool resources rather than each group acting independently?
Glad NAMHO 2019 over.

Offline TheBitterEnd

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2016, 09:18:33 pm »
This is just a suggestion for the benefit of those who wish to see CROW apply to caving.

Would it not be a good idea all special interest groups to pool resources rather than each group acting independently?

No I don't think it would, especially not cavers and kayakers. The house of lords is stuffed with the huntin' shootin' fishin' brigade and they have already had to put up with the hoy polloi being able to wander about on their grouse moors, they are going to fight tooth and nail over the rivers. Better to try to just to see the existing legislation interpreted properly for caving. Other groups have an entirely different battle on their hands.
'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.' — Mark Twain

Offline Simon Wilson

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2016, 09:22:32 pm »
This is just a suggestion for the benefit of those who wish to see CROW apply to caving.

Would it not be a good idea all special interest groups to pool resources rather than each group acting independently?

No I don't think it would, especially not cavers and kayakers. The house of lords is stuffed with the huntin' shootin' fishin' brigade and they have already had to put up with the hoy polloi being able to wander about on their grouse moors, they are going to fight tooth and nail over the rivers. Better to try to just to see the existing legislation interpreted properly for caving. Other groups have an entirely different battle on their hands.

Correct. They want to get the law changed; we don't.

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2016, 10:09:44 pm »
Back of a fag packet summary?

  • Caving: Various bodies/arrangements controlling access in different ways in different areas. Intra-caver warfare. Not specifically excluded by CROW, but none as currently interpreted.
  • Kayaking: Predominantly non CROW. Inter warfare with anglers. Conjectured ancient navigation rights superseded by laws. Law change needed.
  • Climbing: No control. Some discretionary access advice from BMC. Prescribed access on CROW land. Happy Days!
  • Pogo Stick Jumping: Ok on surface of CROW land, not underground. Hmm. Hold on though. Not on foot! Would require re-interpretation of current law?

Robin

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2016, 10:50:21 am »
Climbing: No control. Some discretionary access advice from BMC. Prescribed access on CROW land. Happy Days!
Please note climbing is not mentioned in the act.

Pogo Stick Jumping: Ok on surface of CROW land, not underground. Hmm. Hold on though. Not on foot! Would require re-interpretation of current law?
Please note a wheel chair and a pram are acceptable means of motion, see 2nd comment by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Chris Mullin) at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmstand/b/st000404/am/00404s06.htm.  It is also worth reading his 3rd comment which includes the statement “However, there is a danger of trying to be prescriptive and finding ourselves in a muddle. We are trying to allow everything that is not specifically excluded.”

I would also recommend reading the previous web page at the above link to gain a full appreciation of what was debated on the meaning of 'open air activity'.  (There was a similar debate in the House of Lords, see http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/2000/sep/27/countryside-and-rights-of-way-bill-1#column_881.) 

What I find difficult to understand is why such a clear statement of intent is ignored.  I accept that most examples referenced during all the debates in Parliament were to walking related activities but this small statement makes it clear that the intent of the act in respect of what was an acceptable 'open air activity' was much broader.  Indeed there was one mention of going 'potholing' during one of the debates, see http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/2000/jun/26/countryside-and-rights-of-way-bill#column_740.  If a mention of going climbing during the debates is sufficient to make people accept climbing as a permissible activity, then why is not a mention of caving / potholing sufficient to make caving permissible?

Offline martinr

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2016, 11:26:36 am »
When the Bill was introduced, the Minister made it absolutely clear that it addressed the right of access on foot for the purpose of walking; in other words, the "right to roam". It was for walkers and not for other recreational groups.

Where does that leave caving?

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2016, 12:03:00 pm »
Baroness Miller
Quote
The Bill mentions walkers in particular. Therefore, I assume that that is what is meant by "open air recreation". I have tried to make one or two suggestions as regards what I believe it includes—namely, rock climbing, hill walking, kite flying, orienteering and walking outdoors—but obviously that would not include organised games played outdoors. I should be most grateful for some clarification on that point.

As far as she's concerned anyway, it's not simply walking, but other activities as long as it's not organised games. Shame she hadn't been on a vip caving trip previously or she may have included that in her list.

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2016, 12:49:25 pm »
The phrase “open-air recreation” was acknowledged during debates on the CRoW bill as having been taken from the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949 (NPACA). 

A Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Arthur Hobhouse in 1945 to make recommendations on the formation of National Parks prior to the production NPACA.  The report does say “... that their use for popular enjoyment and open-air recreation is encouraged...”.  In setting down the argument for National Parks, the report contains an Appendix which covers an appreciation of the proposed National Parks.  That for the Peak District made the statement that: “While the many caves and potholes provide ample scope for exploration, climbers who prefer the upper air may spend long days on the gritstone crags.”  That for the Yorkshire Dales (Ref 22.3) stated “...beneath its surface is a widely-famed underworld of potholes and caves, such as Gaping Gill, Alum Pot and Stump Cross Caverns.”  Debates during the passage of the NPACA bill did not appear to provide any clear statement on what open-air recreation was apart from a short definition which solely excluded “organised games”.  In the consequential activities following the passage of NPACA, the then national caving body (BSA) was recognised as a one having interest in matters related to national parks.

The consultation paper by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Welsh Office on CRoW noted the Government's manifesto commitment“Our policies include greater freedom for people to explore our open countryside.”  This paper was issued to a wide range of bodies, including NCA.  The paper proposed that "Proposal 15 Freedom should be granted only for access on foot for the purpose of open-air recreation.”  An Executive Summary and a full report were issued on the result of the consultation exercise.  The summary noted that “There was agreement that access of foot should be the basis for any new rights of access, although organisations representing other types of recreational user were keen that their interests should not be ignored.”  The full report notes in commenting on responses to Proposal 15 that “Responses were mixed on whether the new right of access should extend to cyclists, horse riders, climbers, cavers and canoeists.”  So the government were well aware that caving like canoeing was thought by some to be an 'included' activity.  The government specifically excluded canoeing but made no comment on caving within the Act.

Lastly, I suggest it is clear that if the focus was solely on walking, then activities such "...taking photographs, bird watching, eating a sandwich or even sitting to admire the view..." would be ruled out.  But these were examples cited by Mr Mullin as being acceptable under the meaning of 'open air activity' in his first comment in my link.)  As Mr Mullin said their intent was "...to allow everything that is not specifically excluded...".  So I suggest 'open air activities' covers much more than just walking.

Offline Martin Laverty

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2016, 01:34:48 pm »
A footnote to Bob Mehew's mention of Chris Mullin and his likely understanding of the CRoW bill he piloted into law: some of my early caving was done with his younger brother, a long-standing member of a large and well-known caving club...

Offline Simon Wilson

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2016, 02:16:01 pm »
A footnote to Bob Mehew's mention of Chris Mullin and his likely understanding of the CRoW bill he piloted into law: some of my early caving was done with his younger brother, a long-standing member of a large and well-known caving club...
Wonderful. Thanks for that.  :lol:

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: CRoW Liaison Officers report to BCA
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2016, 03:25:34 pm »
Chris Mullin's diaries (A view from the Foothills) suggest the late Michael Meacher did much of the work.