Author Topic: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things  (Read 123117 times)

Offline Jopo

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #575 on: March 29, 2013, 07:57:54 am »
From NigR

Quote
Unfortunately, it is not the interpretation of our own governing body (BCA) as evidenced by David Judson's statement in Descent that I quoted earlier.

Surprising use of words Nig :)

I don't see the BCA as our 'governing body' - I don't see that caving has or needs one.

I accept the fact that the BCA is generally supported as the representative body for British caving but without getting into (please) the way in which we have ended up having to pay for a useless (IMHO) liability insurance it concerns me that in at least two instances cavers have been refused access to caves in South Wales because 'I have been advised to refuse access' (I believe there is a third instance but am sure about two). It seems that having BCA insurance was of no help here.

Why this should happen recently and fairly close together, altough the caves are not, makes one wonder if they are being advised by their union, insurance agents or providers.

To most we are totally inconsequential in their scheme of things and it is always easier for (most) landowners to say no.

The post from Martin Laverty referring to the CCW (which ceases to exist on April 1st) FAQ booklet - with the usual get out clause - seems to be a important document. I have no doubt that their legal department approved it and that a similar situation (regarding landowners liability) must also exist in England.

This surely must be an area, addressing and informing the NFU and the most relevant insurers, where joined up national/regional representation could be effective.

 Jopo

Offline damian

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #576 on: March 29, 2013, 08:29:18 am »
Since you're here, what would the objection be to losing the off season for fells? Or losing the need for mid week permits?
This, of course, is 100% CNCC territory and nothing to do with BCA. However, on a personal basis, I know that the agreements are renewed (and renegotiated) annually and that every year CNCC push for greater access. Last year this resulted in 3 permits per day being granted to Leck Fell (a 50% increase) for example. Casterton has traditionally had nowhere near 100% take-up of the available permits so that makes it rather difficult to explain why cavers need more. My understanding is that the closed season on Leck is actively supported by Natural England and they liaise regularly with the landowners and their agents.

Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #577 on: March 29, 2013, 09:42:04 am »
From NigR

Quote
Unfortunately, it is not the interpretation of our own governing body (BCA) as evidenced by David Judson's statement in Descent that I quoted earlier.

Surprising use of words Nig :)

I don't see the BCA as our 'governing body' - I don't see that caving has or needs one.

Sorry, Jop. Call them the "representative body" then, makes no difference really.

Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #578 on: March 29, 2013, 10:05:04 am »
Since you're here, what would the objection be to losing the off season for fells? Or losing the need for mid week permits?
This, of course, is 100% CNCC territory and nothing to do with BCA. However, on a personal basis, I know that the agreements are renewed (and renegotiated) annually and that every year CNCC push for greater access. Last year this resulted in 3 permits per day being granted to Leck Fell (a 50% increase) for example. Casterton has traditionally had nowhere near 100% take-up of the available permits so that makes it rather difficult to explain why cavers need more.


Thanks Damian. I know you can't speak for BCA (or CNCC) but it is useful having your knowledge base to put things in some context or different light shed on it.

It's not really about more Damian, it's about perhaps making what access is available easier to get. If I'm in the Dales (for work, as I often am) and find myself with a gap between jobs (and work can and often does come up with just a few days notice) and I want to cave, the difficulty of getting a permit (without access to the internet or a pc) makes trying to get a permit nigh on impossible. Yet I bet on any given day there isn't a permit issued to preclude me from caving in that system. But I can't go because of no permit.

Some may say tough. Go somewhere else that doesn't require a permit. Problem is you can only do those caves so many times before they become a little tiresome (not discounting the constant use these systems will no doubt find themselves under because people can't "spread" out to other caves - not very conservation minded that I guess - honey-spotting).


Quote
My understanding is that the closed season on Leck is actively supported by Natural England and they liaise regularly with the landowners and their agents.

It'd be interesting to know or find out if Leck Fell has a closed season for walkers etc? Having had a quick snoop on NE website:


http://www.natureonthemap.naturalengland.org.uk/map.aspx?map=sssi&feature=1017310,sssi-su,HYPERLINK


Condition:      
Unfavourable no change
 
Latest assessment date:    
08 June 2010
 
Reason for adverse condition:    
Inappropriate stock-feeding, overgrazing
 
Condition assessment comment:    
This small unit covers flushes slopes above Leck Fell House The communities here are species-rich and passes its target with 6 species present. Overall there was a low frequency of broadleaved species. More that 75% of vegetation coves was of these species. There were no non-natives. On average 5-10% of cover was soft rush. This is within target but of note. However significant cover of Holcus and Ranunculus .repens indicates enrichment issues probably associated with grazing, possibly historic. There were few bare ground of disturbed ground issues although there was trampling damage at one sample stop. Disturbance was not seen within tufa features. There is little evidence that recovery is in place. The 2007 visit indicated similar nature of vegetation



The reasons for closure in lots of cases seem to be overgrazing! The site near Ireby has human interference as being unfavourable (as well as... overgrazing).

In the Peak, the NT and the Park Authority are re-seeding and repairing huge areas on Kinder Scout (amongst others). A fence has been erected around the plateau. Walkers etc are asked to find alternate routes but access isn't denied. Most people I speak to (and I'm up there a lot in Summer) seem to stick to what amounts to a voluntary ban. Give people the right information (educate) and they are more willing, it would seem from my not very scientific vox pop, to adhere to "the rules".

A ban on walkers on Leck Fell doesn't appear on the site though, which is a little odd (and inconsistent).

Frantically trying to find the source, but UK tourism was of bigger benefit to UK economy than farming was.  ;)


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #579 on: March 29, 2013, 10:13:12 am »
Just looking through the CNCC website:

Casterton Fell

No digging or explosives are allowed on the Whelprigg Estate’s land.


The argument for not increasing access as landowners might not allow future digs seems a bit moot really...
I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #580 on: March 29, 2013, 11:15:50 am »
Thank you for those links Rhys. They were very informative. The BCA/Dave Judson statement says:

"Whilst CRoW does (with limitations) give access to rock faces, (they are regarded as land that just happens to be vertical rather than horizontal), it absolutely does not give legal access to caves, potholes or abandoned mines."
"access to caves and disused mines is entirely at the discretion of the landowner and/or occupier (e.g. the farmer)."

The thread discussing it is full of statements such as:
Langcliffe: It's a pity that it's incorrect. The CROW does not give specific permission to access caves, but then nor is access to caves specifically excluded.
peterk: The phrase "open-air recreation" looks to have no legal definition
AndyF: what should be explained in this document, not stating as "law.....absolutely clear" something which in fact is "undefined and woolly"
Rhys: It should have started with words such as "It is the opinion and policy of the BCA that..."
Alex: I should go and chop my nuts off with a pair of rusty plyers

If that document was printed it would not be worth the paper that it is printed upon. If that document informs the BCA on a point of law then I am truly disappointed in it.

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #581 on: March 29, 2013, 11:21:46 am »
Damian: If I want to change this situation, I will go to a court of law or a landowner and let it CROW and caving be decided there. BCA cannot legislate! It makes no difference what they have concluded. Standing for a position in the BCA or becoming involved with it in another way, will have no bearing on a point of law.

(This is not to say that discussion with and within the BCA would not be useful, but it would certainly not be a deciding factor for the legality of access.)

It also appears that the BCA have chosen to misinform themselves on a point of law, and thus persuasion may be hopeless.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #582 on: March 29, 2013, 11:25:10 am »
Remember: BCA is a membership organisation. If you want to change it, join it and get involved.
Secondly, as already stated the BCA has no influence over the policy of its regional bodies, hence the massive differences in access arrangements between groups like the DCA and CNCC. Join your local regional body (about £10) and then start lobbying.

Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #583 on: March 29, 2013, 11:28:15 am »
Damian: If I want to change this situation, I will go to a court of law or a landowner and let it CROW and caving be decided there. BCA cannot legislate! It makes no difference what they have concluded. Standing for a position in the BCA or becoming involved with it in another way, will have no bearing on a point of law.

(This is not to say that discussion with and within the BCA would not be useful, but it would certainly not be a deciding factor for the legality of access.)

It also appears that the BCA have chosen to misinform themselves on a point of law, and thus persuasion may be hopeless.

Blackholesun raises an interesting point. Is it incumbent on BCA to find out what the membership want rather than wait for people to approach them? The reason I ask this is if there is an ennui, a disillusionment, a feeling of they don't speak for us amongst some cavers, they're hardly likely to want to get involved. Consequence - people end up doing what they want, when they want.
I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #584 on: March 29, 2013, 11:29:21 am »
Moderators:
I've been particularly enjoying the paragraph in the BCA document which includes:

Think about it, free access to caves and potholes would be quite
inoperable (and dangerous) in many situations including popular sites such as Lancaster Hole,
Gaping Gill, Ogof Fynnon Ddu, Swildons Hole, etc.

If I were to start a thread on this, would it be merged or deleted? I feel that if it were merely buried in this thread, then others may not be able to enjoy the hilarity and inanity of it in the way that I was.

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #585 on: March 29, 2013, 11:32:28 am »
I imagine, Stu, that like the government, if you don't become active in the BCA or CNCC or make enough noise, your opinion will never be known or even asked for. Could be wrong here, though, given my lack of expertise in this field.

Offline Alex

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #586 on: March 29, 2013, 11:40:59 am »
I see alot of points that open access will reduce or make difficult to get permission for digs, but is there any evidence for this? For example how difficult would it be to get permission to dig on West Ingleborough, or West Kingsdale, that currently enjoy open access to the caves.

Most of the points against open access do not seem to have got any supporting evidence, for example reducing the value of land was shot down as there was no evidence for this on page 23.

Quote
I should go and chop my nuts off with a pair of rusty plyers
- Only if I am forced to go down Jingling again!
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #587 on: March 29, 2013, 11:53:43 am »
Regarding the BCA/Judson statement, the most worrying aspect is that it can (and has been) used by those seeking to control (and limit) access to influence the opinion of landowners.

It is important to consider the context in which this statement was produced. Look at the date on the document then cast your mind back as to what was taking place at that time. I could easily produce a detailed chronology of events if need be but would prefer not to have to do so.

Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #588 on: March 29, 2013, 12:03:43 pm »
Remember: BCA is a membership organisation. If you want to change it, join it and get involved.
Secondly, as already stated the BCA has no influence over the policy of its regional bodies, hence the massive differences in access arrangements between groups like the DCA and CNCC. Join your local regional body (about £10) and then start lobbying.

Getting myself off topic here but my 2p-worth and it's most definitely not aimed at you Peter :

I am a member of BCA. BCA seem to have a very entrenched attitude towards access and I do think that does have an affect on regional bodies in that there isn't any attempt to influence them.

If by involved you mean "get involved" on the committee I find that notion a bit ridiculous (not you for making it I hasten to add). If every time an issue came up (I don't know - the type of padlock used on gates as a silly example) a complete change of committee had to happen to get it (because of a one issue point) then nothing would ever get done! I don't want officers in my representative body to be there on a one issue basis. The officers are there to represent opinion not dictate it. It shouldn't be a private club for people "like me". The doubters over access may deny it's an issue, I might be overstating my hand, but nearly everyone I talk to is dissatisfied with CRoW and caving as it stands. Yet this doesn't appear to be represented at National level.

If there are hard facts which back up BCA policy then fair do's. Unfortunately most of the "evidence" that is brought forward is paper thin or vague at best.

I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #589 on: March 29, 2013, 12:08:18 pm »
Nig: Don't bother. I'm guessing the pertinent issue about access when that was written starts with a "D" and ends in a "raenen second entrance".

Offline Alex

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #590 on: March 29, 2013, 12:10:51 pm »
Yes Stu, I am sure I got a similar response when I wanted things to change a while ago. Like you say its their job to represent our opinions  at our request, not the other way around. Imagine if the government made the same statement lol.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline peterk

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #591 on: March 29, 2013, 12:16:12 pm »
"The phrase "open-air recreation" looks to have no legal definition" .  It isn't defined in the Interpretation section of CROW or other Acts I know of. This is obviously a common situation and AFAIK the Courts then have to reach their opinion as to its meaning and Barristers start earning.

The on-line  Oxford English Dictionary shows no occurrence of "open (-) air recreation. but it defines:
Recreation
The action or fact of refreshing or entertaining oneself through a pleasurable or interesting pastime, amusement, activity, etc. (esp. habitually); amusement, entertainment. (I was amused by this reported use:  1958   Observer 10 Aug. 2/7   Our recreation was spent in back entries.)

Open air.
Free or unenclosed space outdoors, usually exposed to the weather; the unconfined atmosphere
and
 Usu. open-air. Existing, taking place in, or characteristic of the open air.

On these definitions caving is not permitted. The examples of the use of the term  open-air  reference open air preaching, concerts etc. but also include :
"1949   A. Koestler Promise & Fulfilm. iii. i. 296   A people living underground must be single-minded..; but these qualities when carried over into open-air politics, become a grave handicap." :)

Offline Pete K

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #592 on: March 29, 2013, 12:41:26 pm »
I am a member of BCA. BCA seem to have a very entrenched attitude towards access and I do think that does have an affect on regional bodies in that there isn't any attempt to influence them......
Luckily, I'm based in Derbyshire where in comparison we seem to have a very good access situation and a regional body that encompasses the views of both club and professional cavers.
I have not had to become involved with the BCA policy wrangling outside of an observers seat at NCP meetings. I take your point on changing the guard with every hot topic, so perhaps an alteration of my statement:

Remember: BCA is a membership organisation. Cavers could start by writing or speaking to the relevant officers in their regional council to express an interest in changing the status quo or to investigate the relationship between CRoW and caving further. If enough individuals and clubs do this then the BCA/Regional Council would have to take note.

Offline Stuart Anderson

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #593 on: March 29, 2013, 12:46:19 pm »
I am a member of BCA. BCA seem to have a very entrenched attitude towards access and I do think that does have an affect on regional bodies in that there isn't any attempt to influence them......
Luckily, I'm based in Derbyshire where in comparison we seem to have a very good access situation and a regional body that encompasses the views of both club and professional cavers.
I have not had to become involved with the BCA policy wrangling outside of an observers seat at NCP meetings. I take your point on changing the guard with every hot topic, so perhaps an alteration of my statement:

Remember: BCA is a membership organisation. Cavers could start by writing or speaking to the relevant officers in their regional council to express an interest in changing the status quo or to investigate the relationship between CRoW and caving further. If enough individuals and clubs do this then the BCA/Regional Council would have to take note.

Excellent point well made.
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To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

Offline braveduck

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #594 on: March 29, 2013, 12:50:17 pm »
In one of the CROW documents put up here the word "explore" was used.
You are allowed to explore CROW lands.I would have thought the word explore fitted our activaties exactly!

Offline Pete K

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #595 on: March 29, 2013, 12:53:27 pm »
For reference, the full CRoW act is here:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/37/contents

Offline mmilner

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #596 on: March 29, 2013, 03:37:00 pm »
In one of the CROW documents put up here the word "explore" was used.
You are allowed to explore CROW lands.I would have thought the word explore fitted our activaties exactly!

Yes, you are allowed to explore above ground but only in permitted 'open-air' activities.

Some good discussion going on here, keep it up...  :thumbsup:
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Offline mmilner

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #597 on: March 29, 2013, 03:45:23 pm »
Remember: BCA is a membership organisation. Cavers could start by writing or speaking to the relevant officers in their regional council to express an interest in changing the status quo or to investigate the relationship between CRoW and caving further. If enough individuals and clubs do this then the BCA/Regional Council would have to take note.

I agree with this, if we all start getting in touch with the relevant peeps in our regional councils we might start to motivate some investigation into these issues and maybe we could try and get some, (and maybe even some funding for), court clarification...

Norbert Casteret (Ten Years Under the Earth) and Pierre Chevalier (Subterranean Climbers) were my inspiration to start caving. (And I'm still doing it.) Secretary, Darfar Potholing Club, the Peak District.

Offline bograt

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #598 on: March 29, 2013, 03:58:05 pm »
There is no need for court clarification at this stage, the initial clarification needs to come from the relevant LAF, preferably via regional bodies, at the moment I am not aware of any approach made to them. If the regional body does not act in response to cavers requests, then there is nothing to stop individuals and clubs approach the LAF directly and asking them for a ruling, there are a few routes open to us before we start looking to the courts. Its called lobbying.
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Offline mmilner

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #599 on: March 29, 2013, 04:03:23 pm »
There is no need for court clarification at this stage, the initial clarification needs to come from the relevant LAF, preferably via regional bodies, at the moment I am not aware of any approach made to them. If the regional body does not act in response to cavers requests, then there is nothing to stop individuals and clubs approach the LAF directly and asking them for a ruling, there are a few routes open to us before we start looking to the courts. Its called lobbying.

Soz, keep forgetting about the LAF's. Have we any contact details for them, hopefully the regional councils have, but it might be useful if we could also contact them directly maybe? (Soz, if this info has already been posted, it's difficult to keep track of so many pages of this thread...)
Norbert Casteret (Ten Years Under the Earth) and Pierre Chevalier (Subterranean Climbers) were my inspiration to start caving. (And I'm still doing it.) Secretary, Darfar Potholing Club, the Peak District.

 

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