Author Topic: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things  (Read 118443 times)

Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #450 on: March 27, 2013, 09:13:45 pm »
There is more to the BCA insurance scheme than many people realise.  What has been extremely useful to DCA where a farmer has been advised by a solicitor (incorrectly) that he could be liable if there were an accident in a cave on his land, is that BCA is able to issue a P.L. Insurance 'landowner certificate' as part of its insurance scheme. This reassures the landowner that, even if someone does try to take him to court, this insurance will cover his expenses.  CNCC also uses this 'landowner certificate' scheme and it is also open to clubs or access management bodies which are members of BCA.
Jenny Potts
Hon. Secretary, Derbyshire Caving Association

If cavers were granted access to CRoW caves as part of the Act, the liability issue would be a none issue (though it sounds like it wasn't needed in the first place in certain cases). I presume this would remove massive amounts of liability off the insurance burden BCA has to face each year...  :-\
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #451 on: March 27, 2013, 09:16:45 pm »

Worth noting also that CNCC (and also DCA) work in close co-operation with Natural England because almost all cave entrances are part of Scheduled Sites of Scientific Importance (SSSIs) and both regional councils work together with N.E. in monitoring cave features.  Because of the SSSI status of caves, E.N. has some say in access to them in a way which does not apply to the access enjoyed by climbers, walkers, etc.
Jenny Potts
Hon. Secretary, Derbyshire Caving Association

One for the legal eagles: if as Jenny asserts, many caves lie in (on/under) S.S.S.I. what would the penalty be if a landowner were to decide to cap/backfill/despoil a cave entrance on S.S.S.I. (or any other version of legally protected land, private or otherwise)?

http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/about_us/news/2011/250811.aspx
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Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #452 on: March 27, 2013, 09:18:22 pm »
The BCA view towards access to caves on CRoW land is unequivocal.

If you look at page 29 of Descent dated June/July 2010 (No. 214), there is a short piece entitled "Cavers and the Land". Written by David Judson (who the editorial introduction says "deals with legal issues relating to caving on behalf of BCA") it says;

CRoW does not give legal access to caves.

and

The law in England and Wales is thus absolutely clear: access to caves, whether or not on CRoW land, is entirely at the discretion of the landowner.

The editorial (presumably written by Chris Howes) describes the entire piece as;

....a clear statement for cavers covering cave and land ownership.

Also, as emphasis to the main article, it advises:

It's worth a careful read: these are the laws that govern where you can cave, and when and why you require those all important permissions and landowner agreements.

In view of Badlad's superb honest and enlightening post (concerning the hundreds of digging trips required to make the Three Counties System a reality, not one of which had an official permit) this is ironic in the extreme. All the publicity given to this magnificent achievement in subsequent issues of Descent was, in effect, lauding years and years of (in the opinion of the Editor and the BCA) illegal activity!






Offline graham

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #453 on: March 27, 2013, 09:22:54 pm »
One for the legal eagles: if as Jenny asserts, many caves lie in (on/under) S.S.S.I. what would the penalty be if a landowner were to decide to cap/backfill/despoil a cave entrance on S.S.S.I. (or any other version of legally protected land, private or otherwise)?

IIRC the penalties for such things are laid out in the Act. However, a N.E. person once told me that much of his working day was spent writing letters giving landowners permission to carry out PDOs in a controlled manner. So if the landowner can justify the act & do it in a manner that does not harm the scientific value of the site (say, by protecting it from despoiling vandals) then permission may well be granted.
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #454 on: March 27, 2013, 09:26:06 pm »
One for the legal eagles: if as Jenny asserts, many caves lie in (on/under) S.S.S.I. what would the penalty be if a landowner were to decide to cap/backfill/despoil a cave entrance on S.S.S.I. (or any other version of legally protected land, private or otherwise)?

IIRC the penalties for such things are laid out in the Act. However, a N.E. person once told me that much of his working day was spent writing letters giving landowners permission to carry out PDOs in a controlled manner. So if the landowner can justify the act & do it in a manner that does not harm the scientific value of the site (say, by protecting it from despoiling vandals) then permission may well be granted.

Would they have to prove "despoiling" by said vandals?  :shrug:
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Offline owd git

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #455 on: March 27, 2013, 09:34:14 pm »
Re the right to open access to caves on CRoW land and the benefits of discussing it on here.
Isn't it much akin to discussing Eric Idle's right to have babies?


or Stans' right to be known as Loretta :thumbsup:
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #456 on: March 27, 2013, 09:34:33 pm »
One for the legal eagles: if as Jenny asserts, many caves lie in (on/under) S.S.S.I. what would the penalty be if a landowner were to decide to cap/backfill/despoil a cave entrance on S.S.S.I. (or any other version of legally protected land, private or otherwise)?

IIRC the penalties for such things are laid out in the Act. However, a N.E. person once told me that much of his working day was spent writing letters giving landowners permission to carry out PDOs in a controlled manner. So if the landowner can justify the act & do it in a manner that does not harm the scientific value of the site (say, by protecting it from despoiling vandals) then permission may well be granted.

Would they have to prove "despoiling" by said vandals?  :shrug:

Furthermore, would they be required to "make good" all the surrounding area of the cave entrance? Presume they wouldn't just be allowed to get a backhoe on it and tear up any more of the land?

Sounds costly to me. Might be cheaper for the BCA to have a fundraiser to buy a load of posters about cave conservation, make a big splash of it in Descent (caving journal of choice) and perhaps buy a load of barrier tape to tape off the pretties.  :shrug:
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #457 on: March 27, 2013, 10:25:46 pm »
http://tinyurl.com/bqvnyah

PDF - Annual report of the 2008/09 LAF for the Dales. Heartening statement by the Chairman (page 4).
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Offline graham

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #458 on: March 27, 2013, 10:54:01 pm »
Would they have to prove "despoiling" by said vandals?  :shrug:

no idea, you'd have to ask one of the guys who actually makes such decisions.
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Offline exsumper

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #459 on: March 28, 2013, 12:25:57 am »
Its not just vandalism by landowners ,cavers or yobs we should be concerned with. I know of one site in Ebbor Gorge, where vandalism has  occured as the result of the lack of consideration by Professional Archeologists. Gully cave and its environs (including text book examples of formerly pristine periglacial scree slopes) has been turned into a complete eyesore. :spank:

With an increasing no of research students (with little or no experience of cave excavation or environments) jumping on the cave deposits bandwagon. I think now would be a good time for the BCRA/QRA  to consider how to prevent such an occurence happening again??

Its a bloody disgrace!!! :furious:
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Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #460 on: March 28, 2013, 12:36:25 am »
It is interesting to note the differing attitudes taken towards access on CRoW land by the various Regional Councils.

This is from the minutes of Cambrian Caving Council's AGM in 2012 and follows on from a discussion about an access agreement with the Forestry Commission:

Several people asked whether this could be extended to a general right of access to underground without landowner liability. Stuart (France) is particularly keen to see this happen on CRoW land and could do this via Statutory Instrument in Wales. Elsie (Little) emphasised that this is already part of our objectives.

Offline mikem

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #461 on: March 28, 2013, 08:16:49 am »
The BCA view towards access to caves on CRoW land is unequivocal.

If you look at page 29 of Descent dated June/July 2010 (No. 214), there is a short piece entitled "Cavers and the Land". Written by David Judson (who the editorial introduction says "deals with legal issues relating to caving on behalf of BCA") it says;

CRoW does not give legal access to caves.

and

The law in England and Wales is thus absolutely clear: access to caves, whether or not on CRoW land, is entirely at the discretion of the landowner.

The editorial (presumably written by Chris Howes) describes the entire piece as;

....a clear statement for cavers covering cave and land ownership.

Also, as emphasis to the main article, it advises:

It's worth a careful read: these are the laws that govern where you can cave, and when and why you require those all important permissions and landowner agreements.

In view of Badlad's superb honest and enlightening post (concerning the hundreds of digging trips required to make the Three Counties System a reality, not one of which had an official permit) this is ironic in the extreme. All the publicity given to this magnificent achievement in subsequent issues of Descent was, in effect, lauding years and years of (in the opinion of the Editor and the BCA) illegal activity!
Many canoeists are now taking the view that there is nothing in the legislation that prevents canoeing on inland rivers apart from the interpretation of previous generations - the issue of crossing land to get to the rivers may be more of a problem...

Mike

Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #462 on: March 28, 2013, 08:33:41 am »
Many canoeists are now taking the view that there is nothing in the legislation that prevents canoeing on inland rivers apart from the interpretation of previous generations.........

So is canoeing like caving in so much as it is neither mentioned as being an allowable activity nor is it specifically excluded? If so, what is the attitude of the national body (BCU?) to this? What was the attitude of the national body prior to and during the drafting of the legislation? I would assume that most canoeists would have wanted their activity to have been included. What was their reaction when this was not the case?

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #463 on: March 28, 2013, 09:12:37 am »
The BCA view towards access to caves on CRoW land is unequivocal.

If you look at page 29 of Descent dated June/July 2010 (No. 214), there is a short piece entitled "Cavers and the Land". Written by David Judson (who the editorial introduction says "deals with legal issues relating to caving on behalf of BCA") it says;

CRoW does not give legal access to caves.

and

The law in England and Wales is thus absolutely clear: access to caves, whether or not on CRoW land, is entirely at the discretion of the landowner.

The editorial (presumably written by Chris Howes) describes the entire piece as;

....a clear statement for cavers covering cave and land ownership.

Also, as emphasis to the main article, it advises:

It's worth a careful read: these are the laws that govern where you can cave, and when and why you require those all important permissions and landowner agreements.

In view of Badlad's superb honest and enlightening post (concerning the hundreds of digging trips required to make the Three Counties System a reality, not one of which had an official permit) this is ironic in the extreme. All the publicity given to this magnificent achievement in subsequent issues of Descent was, in effect, lauding years and years of (in the opinion of the Editor and the BCA) illegal activity!

Before you get carried away NigR, may I please remind you of a simple fact. The Three Counties system has been achieved as a result of many decades of exploratory activity by a vast number of cavers, many of whom did arrange permission.

The excellent articles in Descent didn't just celebrate the last phase of this outstanding achievement by northern cavers.

Offline graham

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #464 on: March 28, 2013, 09:34:24 am »

Before you get carried away NigR, may I please remind you of a simple fact. The Three Counties system has been achieved as a result of many decades of exploratory activity by a vast number of cavers, many of whom did arrange permission.


Indeed. it didn't all just happen last year.

The excellent articles in Descent didn't just celebrate the last phase of this outstanding achievement by northern cavers.

And some southern cavers ;)
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #465 on: March 28, 2013, 09:38:51 am »
To be fair to NigR the point I took from it is that there is definitely a mixed message whether casually, inadvertently, or whatever. We could possibly all name a name or two of explorers/diggers who didn't get permits.

Granted many may have done.
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #466 on: March 28, 2013, 09:49:32 am »
Many canoeists are now taking the view that there is nothing in the legislation that prevents canoeing on inland rivers apart from the interpretation of previous generations.........

So is canoeing like caving in so much as it is neither mentioned as being an allowable activity nor is it specifically excluded? If so, what is the attitude of the national body (BCU?) to this? What was the attitude of the national body prior to and during the drafting of the legislation? I would assume that most canoeists would have wanted their activity to have been included. What was their reaction when this was not the case?

The BCU have very few fanboys. My involvement is a lot less than it used to be so not as up to date as I once was, but they do have access as a policy issue and do organise campaigns.

They have a trickier time in that much of the navigable water is accessed over private/none access land (there is if memory serves an issue about natural waterways can't be owned, so the paddling could be ok it's getting access and egress is the problem).

A Google of BCU access and CRoW will undoubtedly throw something up. The paddlers I know are quite a militant bunch. 
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Offline kay

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #467 on: March 28, 2013, 10:22:32 am »
The BCU have very few fanboys. My involvement is a lot less than it used to be so not as up to date as I once was, but they do have access as a policy issue and do organise campaigns.

They have a trickier time in that much of the navigable water is accessed over private/none access land (there is if memory serves an issue about natural waterways can't be owned, so the paddling could be ok it's getting access and egress is the problem).

[/quote]

They also have a problem in that there is a powerful opposing group (anglers) competing for access to the same waters. At least cavers don't have that problem!

Offline ian.p

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #468 on: March 28, 2013, 10:31:19 am »
Pitlamp i think its worth considering the fact that who you are may have had a significent affect on your experiance of the CNCC permit system as a well established caver who is well known and whos been on the scene long enough to know the score at least as well as the permit issuers you are one of the least likley individuals to have any trouble. The same goes for most of the other individuals speaking in favour of the status quo.
I can point to a recent attempt by one of the clubs i cave with: Education in the environment caving club (EECC) to gain casterton fell permits for trips over the next few months. The permits were aplied for by about the most patient and diplomatic individual i know and they were ranting by the end of the experiance which only ended when the relevant officer was asked to phone me if they wouldnt beleive we were a bona fide caving club (i was working away with no internet conection or would have aplied for the permits myself) at which point CNCC backed of imediatly and issued the permits. Knowing people and being known seems to make a massive differance.

Offline estelle

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #469 on: March 28, 2013, 10:36:19 am »
I can point to a recent attempt by one of the clubs i cave with: Education in the environment caving club (EECC) to gain casterton fell permits for trips over the next few months. The permits were aplied for by about the most patient and diplomatic individual i know and they were ranting by the end of the experiance which only ended when the relevant officer was asked to phone me if they wouldnt beleive we were a bona fide caving club (i was working away with no internet conection or would have aplied for the permits myself) at which point CNCC backed of imediatly and issued the permits. Knowing people and being known seems to make a massive differance.
that seems ridiculous when a quick google leads to http://british-caving.org.uk/?page=171, which has a list of current BCA member clubs at Mar 2013 including the above named club, which any regional body or access officer wanting to check club affiliation to BCA should be able to check. :shrug:
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Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #470 on: March 28, 2013, 10:37:45 am »
Pitlamp i think its worth considering the fact that who you are may have had a significent affect on your experiance of the CNCC permit system as a well established caver who is well known and whos been on the scene long enough to know the score at least as well as the permit issuers you are one of the least likley individuals to have any trouble. The same goes for most of the other individuals speaking in favour of the status quo.

They say you never notice a clique unless you aren't part of one. At the risk of inflating Pitlamp's ego ( ;)) I too had thought this might have some bearing or influence (and that isn't intended as any sort of sleight towards Pitlamp. I have nothing but admiration).

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Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #471 on: March 28, 2013, 10:46:39 am »
AFAIK, the access issues for kayaking make the issues for caving look small. If you're ever feeling down about not being able to get a permit, then look it up, in the way that Stu suggests.

However, when you look at the relatively free access that climbers have, then it looks like we have a long way to go.

Thanks for getting back to me Jenny. It seems then, that NE and CROW, when it comes to access are largely separate topics. Its always heartening to hear about people working towards the preservation of certain features, such as in WICC, and that NE are still on the Fairy caves issue.

Sadly, I don't have that Descent article so cannot check for context but when David Judson states,

CRoW does not give legal access to caves.

The law in England and Wales is thus absolutely clear: access to caves, whether or not on CRoW land, is entirely at the discretion of the landowner.

what is his reasoning? Does he give any? A substantial portion of this thread is devoted to how the law is absolutely unclear. Does he know something that we don't?

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #472 on: March 28, 2013, 10:54:13 am »
Pitlamp i think its worth considering the fact that who you are may have had a significent affect on your experiance of the CNCC permit system as a well established caver who is well known and whos been on the scene long enough to know the score at least as well as the permit issuers you are one of the least likley individuals to have any trouble. The same goes for most of the other individuals speaking in favour of the status quo.

They say you never notice a clique unless you aren't part of one. At the risk of inflating Pitlamp's ego ( ;)) I too had thought this might have some bearing or influence (and that isn't intended as any sort of sleight towards Pitlamp. I have nothing but admiration).

Thank you for those kind words Stu - and also Ian - but I'd hope that a reasonable approach, based on sound reasoning in occasional special circumstances, its what really counts most. The names of many people who have posted in this discussion are very well known too - but some seem to be very unhappy with how things presently are. Their concerns should certainly be listened to. It never hurts to re-examine the present situation to look for ways it might be improved - provided that's done in a way which doesn't adversely affect other caving colleagues' speleological endeavour.

I understand your point that people who are relatively new to the scene might not find it quite so easy to navigate through what may seem a complex situation. But there are plenty of more experienced folk who would happily help guide them, if help was sought.

Graham - re. "northern cavers" I meant "cavers operating in the north". (Apologies for unintended ambiguity.)

Offline ian.p

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #473 on: March 28, 2013, 11:25:28 am »
Quote
there are plenty of more experienced folk who would happily help guide them, if help was sought.

Who you need to know if they're going to help you... an access system which requires individuals to be in the know in order to be able to access the permit system has got to be fundamentally flawed. Its interesting as a mendip caver who has moved north to observe the opinions held by northern cavers of southern access arrangements and vice versa.

The mendip gating systems appear hopelessly confusing to the unindoctrinated but is very simple to use if you are a southern club caver as you just have to pick up a key from your hut and go.

As a southern caver the northern permit system seems terribly bureaucratic having to apply months in advance on club headed paper this that and the other as a northern caver it seems very simple if you are running a big club trip you apply for a permit
otherwise you don't bother and just go caving that's how it works.

How many people have ever applied for a midweek casterton fell permit? i bet its less than 10 whats more how is a permit system that requires dates to be set months in advance ever going to be suitable for an area like the dales that is so weather dependant casterton fell will always get pirated on wet days under the present access arrangement and no amount of berating from the CNCC is going to change that shourly therefor flexible access under CROW would be preferable
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 11:34:12 am by ian.p »

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #474 on: March 28, 2013, 11:40:04 am »
I suspect rather more than "10" people have "ever applied" for a midweek Casterton Fell permit Ian. Just as an example, I was on a trip on Tuesday 19th February for which a permit had been obtained.

I do understand your frustrations regarding advance booking when the weather is so fickle. (I'm an active caver myself and this has sometimes put paid to our plans - so I fully appreciate where you're coming from.) Yes, it would be superb if CRoW access did give a right to go caving generally. But it doesn't - and I suspect it'd be no mean achievement to get things changed. It would need very careful handling in order to avoid the possibility of it also backfiring in various ways. If anyone is seriously interested in taking that on, I wish you the best of luck. It might prove to be an uphill struggle though. It's not the sort of thing to go at in a half hearted way. If you can get the backing and support of the caving "establishment" this would give access to all sorts of people with special expertise and contacts, probably making a good outcome for all concerned more likely.