Author Topic: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things  (Read 123308 times)

Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #750 on: April 03, 2013, 12:26:20 am »
This is the CCW's interpretation of the act and the resulting guidance is, naturally, based upon this interpretation.

However, that does not mean it is necessarily the correct interpretation.

As has been stated on several occasions already, only a test case in court can provide (dare I say it?) concrete evidence.

This is why I have felt from the start that, in the long term, it would be best to mount an intensive campaign to get the legislation in both England and Wales changed to fall more in line with that of Scotland.

Offline graham

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #751 on: April 03, 2013, 07:17:15 am »
You're definitely some kind of hero Graham.

True  :halo: We do have a very good relationship with this particular landowner, a relationship that has allowed quite a lot of digging to go on, over the years.


I'm guessing that it wasn't on CROW land though, so is perhaps not relevant to this topic.

It is on CroW access land, for sure. It's all about maintaining good relationships with the landowner. Much of the land that they own, which does have caves, is not access land.

I think at least one of the reasons for resistance to more open access through CRoW, is the fear that it will prevent certain caves from being protected. On Mendip, some very significant caves are on CRoW land, surprising really as there isn't that much CRoW land here.   :unsure:

Looking at the legislation however, it appears probable that sites can be protected if it is deemed necessary, so this ought not to be a reason to object to open access generally, but certainly there is a good case for exemptions to allow controlled access in certain circumstances.

This is one thing that gets me about this debate. For certain protagonists, it seems to be all about their convenience. For me, it's all about the caves. You may recall a conversation about accepting that a piece of cave would be trashed which I reported a while back. If that cave had been open access then that conversation would have been about a piece of the cave that had been trashed. Doesn't really show us as good custodians of that which we are supposed to cherish, does it.


You Mendip boys really do have a fetish for concrete don't you?


And there's me thinking that it was in South Wales that a landowner did actually fill in a newly opened entrance when the local (presumably) cavers didn't respect his wishes.  :coffee:

Not sure how relevant Scotland would be to England/Wales, given their different laws (and arguably a relative lack of caves).

It is relevant precisely because the law is different. That difference is there for all to see and shows that the law in England and Wales should not be interpreted in the same way as the Scottish law.
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Offline bob monkhouses face mole

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #752 on: April 03, 2013, 07:23:13 am »
CCW, Forestry Commission Wales and Environment Agency Wales have merged, NE not included.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #753 on: April 03, 2013, 08:19:42 am »
CCW, Forestry Commission Wales and Environment Agency Wales have merged, NE not included.

Thank you  :)

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Offline NewStuff

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #754 on: April 03, 2013, 09:02:15 am »

Not sure how relevant Scotland would be to England/Wales, given their different laws (and arguably a relative lack of caves).

It is relevant precisely because the law is different. That difference is there for all to see and shows that the law in England and Wales should not be interpreted in the same way as the Scottish law.

And this, unless I am mistaken, is what we are trying to get defined. Is it simply an omission and included in the "open air" definition, or is it an omission and excluded? As has been said, the Scottish version was drafted afterwards, and had time to include omissions, give better definitions etc.

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Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #755 on: April 03, 2013, 10:16:56 am »
I stand corrected. I hadn't realised that there were many caves on CROW land in the Mendips, but Graham and Les have dispelled this.

With regards to conservation, I see only two reasons why restricting access to a cave may help.
1) It reduces the number of visitors.
2) It means that the visitors who do go are more likely to be careful.
Which do you think it is Graham? Or is there another reason that I've missed?

"Would you guys have the landowners remove that safety feature..."
No, simply taking the padlock off would suffice. A lid gives safety, a lock gives control. See: Much of Derbyshire.

"..would you accept the fact that keys are easy to source.."
Graham, you do have access to the UBSS tackle store which is full of keys. If we were all so fortunate, there would be fewer complaints. By and large, getting a key is easy, but takes planning and is frustrating when it goes wrong and you've travelled far.

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #756 on: April 03, 2013, 10:25:39 am »
Given the study commissioned for N.E., I think it would be useful to try to contact them to see if they hold the same views as presented in the study. How could this be done?

1) Ask the YDLAF at their meeting if they could ask N.E. (as suggested by JJ on the other thread)
2) Fire off an email to the first appropriate looking address on their website.

I've done the latter, but expect little. The former could certainly be done in a couple of months. Anyone have any other ideas? Recommendations on who to contact?

Offline mmilner

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #757 on: April 03, 2013, 11:25:42 am »
"Would you guys have the landowners remove that safety feature..."
No, simply taking the padlock off would suffice. A lid gives safety, a lock gives control. See: Much of Derbyshire.

Most of the caves 'locked' in the Peak District (not just Derbyshire) just require an adjustable spanner. The 'Derbyshire Key' is a simple solution and works well. The fact that the caves are bolted shut does not imply control, if you can use a spanner you can gain access! (And the majority of the caves in the Peak do not require permits, etc.) A lid on it's own does not give safety, it needs bolting down so members of the public esp. children can't just lift it off and potentially fall to their deaths..

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 Ian Adams

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #758 on: April 03, 2013, 11:36:30 am »
Blackholesun,

I can see no reason why “you” (as an individual) should not write to N.E. and ask for clarification as to whether or not they believe it is legal for “you” to enter a cave on CRoW land (no reason why any of us can’t do it I guess).

Their answer can be made available to the various “bodies” who can they choose to either write themselves or adopt the answer you have been given…..

With regards to the Mendips and conservation, I suspect there will be caves elsewhere where there is a conservation issue too. However, I do not believe the clarification of CRoW should be molested or de-railed by “example” caves that may or may not have conservation issues. The issue of “conservationism” within CRoW caves should be addressed entirely separately.

(And mmilner has a good answer anyway)


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Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #759 on: April 03, 2013, 11:40:25 am »
mmilner; I'm in complete agreement with what you just said. If it sounds like that I wasn't in my last post, then I must have phrased it badly.

I was wondering why Graham thought that a padlock would provide additional security over the 'Derbyshire Key'.

I'm not entirely sure how many people would actually fall down an open hole, but if people are willing to volunteer to fit a method that prevents this, then that's great. If this builds relations with the landowner and stops their sheep falling down it too, then even better.

Offline droid

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #760 on: April 03, 2013, 11:41:22 am »
No, simply taking the padlock off would suffice. A lid gives safety, a lock gives control. See: Much of Derbyshire.


I think that was the point that BHS was making, Mel. And it's a bloody good point.

Seems to me that this discussion is now going round in circles.

There are 3 possible outcomes of the proposed approaches to the LAFs.

1) Caving is accepted as an 'open air' pursuit. Therefore caves are accepted under CRoW, and we can walk up to cave entrances and go caving without permits or other hindrance (apart from maybe a 'Derbyshire key')

2) Caving is NOT accepted as an open air pursuit, back to the drawing board. More lobbying, presumably.

3) No decision is made.  As 2 above.

Am I reading this right?
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Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #761 on: April 03, 2013, 11:50:56 am »
Ian, I emailed them last night and have got:

Your query has been escalated to our Lead Advisor for comment.  We will be in touch again once we have received a reply.

That was only 20 minutes ago, so I'll either let you know soon or wait a few days, give up and hope that someone has thought of something else.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #762 on: April 03, 2013, 11:54:10 am »
Keep pursuing it, don't let it drop.

Also, when you get an email back, ask them to put their answer in writing to you (I suspect an email has a limited legal standing).

... I would ask them to do this whichever side of the fence they come down on (or even if they decide to sit on it)

 ;)

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Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #763 on: April 03, 2013, 11:58:54 am »
Droid, that sounds about right to me, but there may be further issues.
For example there could be varying degrees of answer depending on:

1) How much the YDLAF think caving is covered
2) How confident in their own decision the YDLAF is
3) How much influence the YDLAF think a decision by them has

I'm concerned that we might get a
1, It probably is; 2, Moderately, but not certain; 3, Not enough for a wholescale change in access arrangements

But that is purely speculation and conjecture, based on little.

Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #764 on: April 03, 2013, 12:00:53 pm »
Good point Ian.
I tend to forget the need to have anything written down.

Offline droid

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #765 on: April 03, 2013, 12:27:59 pm »
I'm going to risk getting told off for diverting the discussion here, but bugger it, I'll take that risk....

This is specifically to do with the Dales, but might apply top other areas, I don't know.

This is dependant on my (admittedly sometimes flaky) memory: the access arrangements in Yorkshire , so abhorrent to some, were I believe instituted after a series of high profile and environmentally damaging rescues in the '60s/early '70s. Especially the Mossdale tragedy. This led to a severe restriction on access. Which led to the formation of the CNCC.

I fear that if we DO get open access under law that memories run long and landowners may take action to try to deter such access. Like on Ringinglow (near Sheffield) where if memory serves (see above  :lol: ) the immediate response of one farmer to CRoW was to plough a 50 yard strip right next to the most convienient place to enter his land.

I'm sure that one of the Dales veterans will back up/ correct the above. If I'm wrong, apologies. :-[
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Offline Les W

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #766 on: April 03, 2013, 03:10:13 pm »
Good point Ian.
I tend to forget the need to have anything written down.

Email correspondence should be good enough.
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Offline blackholesun

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #767 on: April 03, 2013, 05:31:19 pm »
Natural England have spoken (electronically (by email, not like Stephen Hawking)).

On the report that was linked to:
"At that time comments were received from Countryside Agency, English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales, RSPB, National Park Authorities, National Trust and many experts in their field who were the main contributors.  Therefore it is fair to say that the consultant didn’t express solely their opinion or that of DEFRA or Natural England."

Therefore, it was perhaps not just the consulant's decision to include caving.

However, the general upshot is that:
"Ultimately the information within the reports is not the opinion of Natural England and the wording in Report NECR012 3.2.1. to include ‘potholing’ is misleading, though it would be for the legal courts to decide definitively if this activity is covered by the CROW Act."

Offline graham

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #768 on: April 03, 2013, 05:45:22 pm »

With regards to conservation, I see only two reasons why restricting access to a cave may help.
1) It reduces the number of visitors.
2) It means that the visitors who do go are more likely to be careful.
Which do you think it is Graham? Or is there another reason that I've missed?

There is one significant reason that you have completely missed which is the fact that a significant number of the better conserved caves require leaders. It is generally acknowledged on Mendip and has been for a long time that route finding is not the task of these people, rather that they act as conservation wardens.

There are other reasons, too. Try to think of some.


"Would you guys have the landowners remove that safety feature..."
No, simply taking the padlock off would suffice. A lid gives safety, a lock gives control. See: Much of Derbyshire.


In the case that I mentioned, the lock was the same one as the nearest caves, where's the problem?

"..would you accept the fact that keys are easy to source.."
Graham, you do have access to the UBSS tackle store which is full of keys. If we were all so fortunate, there would be fewer complaints. By and large, getting a key is easy, but takes planning and is frustrating when it goes wrong and you've travelled far.

As you admit, sourcing keys is actually quite easy. If you can't be bothered to put in a little bit of effort, maybe you can't be bothered to take care underground, either. Just a thought.
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Offline Jenny P

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #769 on: April 03, 2013, 05:52:47 pm »
Aren't the CCW, NE and FC (Forestry Commission) all in the process of amalgamting right now ?

According to a newspaper report I read yesterday, they have just done so.

Offline paul

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #770 on: April 03, 2013, 05:54:56 pm »

With regards to conservation, I see only two reasons why restricting access to a cave may help.
1) It reduces the number of visitors.
2) It means that the visitors who do go are more likely to be careful.
Which do you think it is Graham? Or is there another reason that I've missed?

There is one significant reason that you have completely missed which is the fact that a significant number of the better conserved caves require leaders. It is generally acknowledged on Mendip and has been for a long time that route finding is not the task of these people, rather that they act as conservation wardens.

There are other reasons, too. Try to think of some.


"Would you guys have the landowners remove that safety feature..."
No, simply taking the padlock off would suffice. A lid gives safety, a lock gives control. See: Much of Derbyshire.


In the case that I mentioned, the lock was the same one as the nearest caves, where's the problem?

"..would you accept the fact that keys are easy to source.."
Graham, you do have access to the UBSS tackle store which is full of keys. If we were all so fortunate, there would be fewer complaints. By and large, getting a key is easy, but takes planning and is frustrating when it goes wrong and you've travelled far.

As you admit, sourcing keys is actually quite easy. If you can't be bothered to put in a little bit of effort, maybe you can't be bothered to take care underground, either. Just a thought.

Global Moderator Comment PLEASE keep to the Subject: Access to caves on CRoW land. If you wish to discuss Conservation, which is also an important issue, then start a separate Topic.
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Offline NigR

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #771 on: April 03, 2013, 06:36:38 pm »
I think at least one of the reasons for resistance to more open access through CRoW, is the fear that it will prevent certain caves from being protected. On Mendip, some very significant caves are on CRoW land, surprising really as there isn't that much CRoW land here.   :unsure:

Looking at the legislation however, it appears probable that sites can be protected if it is deemed necessary, so this ought not to be a reason to object to open access generally, but certainly there is a good case for exemptions to allow controlled access in certain circumstances.

Les,

Your reservations are quite understandable, particularly with regard to Mendip where many of the more significant caves have been so well looked after over the years. Nobody, myself included, would want to see all this hard work undone overnight by suddenly making access completely open. As you point out yourself, there is room in the legislation for exemptions to be made in exceptional circumstances. This is what I would expect to happen, especially with caves where access arrangements have been in place prior to the CRoW Act being passed.

It is interesting to note that the only people who have actually postulated the "nightmare scenario" of every single cave gate having to be removed at once are the Uber-Conservationists themselves. Nobody I have spoken to expects (or wants) this to happen. It would be nice if access could be eased in some cases and made more logical in others. Sticking to Mendip, I applaud the efforts of the CSCC to get as many caves as possible on the same key. Perhaps a similar initiative could be undertaken with regard to caves on CRoW land as well?

Offline Alex

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #772 on: April 03, 2013, 07:36:54 pm »
Do you know if this somehow did mean that more caves ended up with locks I would be okay with that PROVIDED the keys are easily accessible in a neutral location (A climbing/caving shop for example on the day), which is how it works in Devon.  Having keys in a neutral location eliminates elitism. This would be far better then these permits that need to gotten 3 months in advance, as my crystal ball is out of batteries.

To keep the numbers down, well only have a limited number of keys. However if its a cave that does not need any real protection, Lost Johns for example I would argue that should be full open access. In-fact the only cave on Leck Fell I would say needs access control is Witches 2, not really being a sporting type cave anyway.
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Offline graham

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #773 on: April 03, 2013, 07:54:36 pm »
Do you know if this somehow did mean that more caves ended up with locks I would be okay with that PROVIDED the keys are easily accessible in a neutral location (A climbing/caving shop for example on the day), which is how it works in Devon.  Having keys in a neutral location eliminates elitism. This would be far better then these permits that need to gotten 3 months in advance, as my crystal ball is out of batteries.

To keep the numbers down, well only have a limited number of keys. However if its a cave that does not need any real protection, Lost Johns for example I would argue that should be full open access. In-fact the only cave on Leck Fell I would say needs access control is Witches 2, not really being a sporting type cave anyway.

Apart from the fact that keys are available from a range of caving Huts and not from a climbing/caving shop, you've just described the system that operates on Mendip with both CSCC and CCC Ltd keys. Easily accessible central locations, No requirement to book months in advance and a limited number of keys (how can that be otherwise?)

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Offline potholer

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Re: Loss of cave access, CROW and other things
« Reply #774 on: April 03, 2013, 08:19:00 pm »
To keep the numbers down, well only have a limited number of keys. However if its a cave that does not need any real protection, Lost Johns for example I would argue that should be full open access. In-fact the only cave on Leck Fell I would say needs access control is Witches 2, not really being a sporting type cave anyway.
Surely a lot depends on what the best reason for limiting numbers in a particular case is - it could be conservation, or it could be trying to avoid a bottleneck when a significantly vertical cave is double-rigged.

There's definitely a convenience factor in knowing you [should] have Lost Johns or Notts to yourself, especially if taking a decent-sized group down there.
Arguably that's more the case for people who are travelling a long way and don't get up north very often - if a southern club comes up north rarely, it can be nice for them to know they have a fighting chance of doing some fine trips in a fairly stress-free way.
I'm in the dales at least monthly, and sometimes beyond weekends, so it'd be rather less of an issue for me - if I'm unlucky one time I can try again fairly soon.

If it's unbearably annoying to have a rare occasion when a planned key can't be obtained after a long drive to an area, how about finding a planned vertical cave already occupied, or going down and find someone has double-rigged behind you with a group of slow novices on a cave which isn't good for that?
Sure, people shouldn't double-rig like that, but some do, and the existing system (in the places where people generally abide by it) does make it somewhat less likely than in the more free-for-all areas.

On the other hand, Easegill could (and does) soak up large quantities of people, but then the main entrances aren't terrible bottlenecks - Lancs shaft itself isn't technical or particularly long, and is amenable to double-rigging, and County/WR have only short drops.

 

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