Author Topic: CSCC's position on CRoW  (Read 4862 times)

Offline Cookie

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CSCC's position on CRoW
« on: November 30, 2014, 11:20:47 am »
With the ballot papers landing on your doormat, CSCC has posted it position on CRoW.

See The CSCC Position in respect of the CRoW Act or read the copy below.

The CSCC Position in respect of the CRoW Act.

At the recent BCA Council meeting (11th October 2014) a decision was made to ask all the membership, by ballot, for a direction on whether the Association should campaign for this Act, passed in 2000, to apply to caves and caving. Those in favour of this action maintain that this is a simple matter that would result in unrestricted access to affected caves with little or no downside. CSCC do not agree with that view and would like you to consider the following points before making your decision.

1) The majority of caves that the pro-CRoW lobby consider to be affected by this are in the Yorkshire and Lancashire dales, on open moorland. However, there are other sites affected in different parts of the country where conditions are different , but a broad-brush legalistic approach does not allow for regional differences to be considered and taken into account. The law, clearly, will be the same throughout the country.

2) One of the major reasons for restricting access to some caves is on conservation grounds. Those in favour of CroW argue that restrictions can be kept in place, where necessary, by use of Section 26 orders under the Act. However, as no such order has – as yet - ever been applied to caves for the obvious reason that the relevant government agencies (DEFRA and Natural England) do not think that CroW applies to the underground, it is not known what criteria would be applied to these decisions, how long the process might take and whether any restrictions could be legally kept in place during the process. All we can be sure of is that Natural England will not have additional resources to deal with this, neither now, for known caves, nor in the future, for new discoveries.

3) The CRoW Act does not grant any rights to dig, either on the surface or underground. Thus digging permissions will continue to require negotiation with landowners and, in the case of SSSIs, Natural England. It is not known how this proposed change may affect this process. Two possible problems are that landowners may be less willing to grant digging permissions as these will increase their own liability for what is happening on their land. Their insurers may not allow this. The second is that conservation-minded landowners may be unwilling to allow the discovery of new caves on their land that cannot then be easily and promptly protected, as described above.

4) Landowner relations have always been an extremely important part of caving as an activity. Cavers have always relied on the goodwill of landowners to go caving, and the CSCC have, for many years, worked hard to maintain good relations with landowners on Mendip. One of the problems with the CRoW act is the fact that open access land is often in fairly small pockets, so local landowners do have a problem with walkers wandering from open access land on to privately owned farmland (this is less of a problem in other areas where whole fells are open access). It is likely that including caving within CRoW activities will exacerbate this issue, at least locally. It should also be noted that the CNCC have approached a number of estate landowners in the Dales, and the only one that replied stated that whilst they were aware of the debate they didn’t think that the situation had changed and that they do not consider caving to be a permitted activity under CroW.

If the result of the referendum is a clear yes vote then the BCA will have a mandate from their members to try to challenge the current advice from Natural England, and will push for cavers to have the right to freely explore underground sites that have entrances on CRoW land (there will also have to be a 2nd referendum to change the BCA constitution, since to do so at present would be against section 4.6 which currently states that “the owners and tenants of property containing caves have the right to grant or withhold access”).

If the result of the referendum is no, then the BCA will continue to accept the advice from Natural England / DEFRA that CroW does not apply to caves and caving and will not campaign to have caving and going underground recognised as a permitted activity – i.e. if the result is no then the current status quo will continue.

The debate about the CRoW act is an important one for cavers. CSCC hopes that this summary of the issues will provoke some debate, and that everyone will give the matter some thought before casting their vote.
Dave Cooke. BCA: IT Working Party Convenor, Web Services

Offline zomjon

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2014, 12:54:39 pm »
On the other thread started on this subject, one of the openly anti-CROW members has berated fellow posters for continuing to push their pro opinions at this late stage, but here we have one of our regional bodies posting a set of totally anti arguments in their name. To my knowledge, my own local body, Derbyshire, hasn't done this. Can Mendip cavers not make up their own minds?

Offline Cookie

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2014, 01:26:52 pm »
A successful ballot depends upon an informed electorate.

Given that BCA decided, no doubt for good reasons, not to include any campaigning information with the ballot paper, there is a need for a succinct summary for the voter.

CSCC's is favour of the status quo and is therefore putting the case for a no vote. The pro camp are entitled to and should do the same for the yes vote. 
Dave Cooke. BCA: IT Working Party Convenor, Web Services

Offline jasonbirder

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2014, 01:57:22 pm »
Did the CSCC to consult delegates from its 40 member clubs before issuing such a strongly anti-statement?
(presumably with the aim of influencing voters of clubs affiliated to the CSCC)



Offline Cookie

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2014, 02:22:14 pm »
Yes it did in so far as any organisation can.

CSCC has held 3 meetings where the subject has been discussed. (8th Aug, 6th Sep, 11th Nov). The Agenda and Minutes have been circulated to all the Reps. Each subsequent meeting has re-affirmed the initial vote in which every club, bar one abstention, was against CRoW.

Yes, we are in a campaign. It is designed to give case for a NO vote so the voters can make an informed choice.
Dave Cooke. BCA: IT Working Party Convenor, Web Services

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2014, 04:08:08 pm »
On the other thread started on this subject, one of the openly anti-CROW members has berated fellow posters for continuing to push their pro opinions at this late stage, but here we have one of our regional bodies posting a set of totally anti arguments in their name. To my knowledge, my own local body, Derbyshire, hasn't done this. Can Mendip cavers not make up their own minds?
No I wasn't. I would have said exactly the same thing to somoeone mindlessly posting "Just Vote No". It's pointless and boring.

Offline badger

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2014, 09:04:40 pm »
problem with this issue is whilst mendips does not have a access problem, the current system works extremely well, going North and especially Yorkshire there is a problem, and if you only cave in mendip then the status quo is fine, if you cave in Yorkshire then there is a problem, and as one who likes to go north as often as I can then trying to get access can be and has been a headache
so do individuals support all cavers, or say not a problem in our area? and actually if the vote comes back with a yes vote it means is that the BCA after a vote for constitution change will actively pursue a stance on changing CROW stance by Defra

Offline hrock

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2014, 12:50:00 am »
one problem i see with the Yorkshire has a problem with access argument is that whist voting yes might sort it out it also might not and at the same time it might make access for the rest of the country harder it also might not.

ether way this seems like a large sledgehammer to crack a local nut  (that i think dose need cracking)

but i think the crow issue is bigger then the currant wrangling in yorkshire and should be looked at in a more holistic approach. This could still mean people vote yes but i dont think people should vote yes or no with out good consideration.   
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Offline cavermark

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2014, 01:03:57 am »
A "hole-istic" approach to cave access sounds totally appropriate hrock - great pun  ;)  :lol:

Offline mmilner

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2014, 07:14:15 am »
There is a serious error in point 4 of this. I was at the recent BCA C&A meeting and the CNCC Conservation Officer told everyone present at the meeting that the new CNCC Access Officer had approached ALL of the major landowners who might be affected by this and NONE of them were particularly concerned about it!  :coffee:

We should be working for the good of all cavers all over the country. At the end of the day, this will not affect any caver / landowner relationships unless you try and stuff it in their faces and make demands.

Even if CRoW is found to cover caving, it won't change anything if you don't want it to. I think most cavers would want to preserve their current  landowner relationships. But a few situations exist which might be helped by a Yes vote. So why not help out your fellow cavers and try and get this sorted on a national level. NE and Defra will only listen to BCA and quite rightly so.
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Offline Simon Wilson

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2014, 07:49:06 am »
Mel,
Cookie is going off what is recorded in the minutes which you might want to look at. I can tell you that things have moved on quite a bit since then.

Offline Bottlebank

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2014, 09:49:35 am »
There is a serious error in point 4 of this. I was at the recent BCA C&A meeting and the CNCC Conservation Officer told everyone present at the meeting that the new CNCC Access Officer had approached ALL of the major landowners who might be affected by this and NONE of them were particularly concerned about it!  :coffee:

We should be working for the good of all cavers all over the country. At the end of the day, this will not affect any caver / landowner relationships unless you try and stuff it in their faces and make demands.

Even if CRoW is found to cover caving, it won't change anything if you don't want it to. I think most cavers would want to preserve their current  landowner relationships. But a few situations exist which might be helped by a Yes vote. So why not help out your fellow cavers and try and get this sorted on a national level. NE and Defra will only listen to BCA and quite rightly so.

Let's get this in perspective. Simon is right but Mel is painting a much rosier picture than is actually the case.

I spoke to the CNCC Access Officer at the weekend before I knew about this and he confirmed he had spoken to three of the bigger landowners and they were not concerned. I hope he won't mind me saying this.

Whilst that is good news it is a long way from discussing CRoW with ALL major landowners as Mel suggests, and a very long way from discussing it with all affected farmers and smaller landholders.

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Offline mmilner

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2014, 11:18:16 am »
I spoke to the CNCC Access Officer at the weekend before I knew about this and he confirmed he had spoken to three of the bigger landowners and they were not concerned. I hope he won't mind me saying this.

Whilst that is good news it is a long way from discussing CRoW with ALL major landowners as Mel suggests, and a very long way from discussing it with all affected farmers and smaller landholders.

Okies. Fair enough. I'm just going off what was reported at the meeting. With regards to 'farmers and smaller landholders' that is a slightly different issue, what the main issues are though is surely Leck & Casterton Fells. They don't affect me personally as there are plenty of other caves I can go down in the Dales.

I just don't feel that there is much to get worried about by voting Yes. Whatever the result of the ballot, no-one (I think) is going to be going about upsetting landowners and their existing access agreements. It just wouldn't make sense.

AND the BCA are still going to have to convince NE & Defra to change their opinion even after a Yes majority vote. It's all going to take time and won't change much for a good while. Plenty of time to plan ahead, talk to landowners, etc. I don't see any problem with it. There are people in BCA who are clued up enough about this stuff to sort it in the best interests of everyone...

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 Bottlebank

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2014, 11:41:03 am »
I spoke to the CNCC Access Officer at the weekend before I knew about this and he confirmed he had spoken to three of the bigger landowners and they were not concerned. I hope he won't mind me saying this.

Whilst that is good news it is a long way from discussing CRoW with ALL major landowners as Mel suggests, and a very long way from discussing it with all affected farmers and smaller landholders.

Okies. Fair enough. I'm just going off what was reported at the meeting. With regards to 'farmers and smaller landholders' that is a slightly different issue, what the main issues are though is surely Leck & Casterton Fells. They don't affect me personally as there are plenty of other caves I can go down in the Dales.

I just don't feel that there is much to get worried about by voting Yes. Whatever the result of the ballot, no-one (I think) is going to be going about upsetting landowners and their existing access agreements. It just wouldn't make sense.

AND the BCA are still going to have to convince NE & Defra to change their opinion even after a Yes majority vote. It's all going to take time and won't change much for a good while. Plenty of time to plan ahead, talk to landowners, etc. I don't see any problem with it. There are people in BCA who are clued up enough about this stuff to sort it in the best interests of everyone...

Leck and Casterton seem to be the two areas that ignited the CRoW campaign, which is ironic, as in practice we've enjoyed pretty good access to both for years - albeit that many trips have ignored the permit system for as long as I can remember.

The CRoW campaign is about much more than Leck or Casterton, and will affect every area and there'll be plenty of time for landowners and farmers to decide they don't like it, and some won't.

Mel, you keep on saying that you can't see a problem, which really worries me. There are potential problems - even Bob, Badlad and others who are pro CRoW accept that. The risk isn't worth the reward in my opinion, in their opinion it is, which is fair enough.

As an example read Bob's conclusion in this - http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17182.0

Looks like Badlad was right when he told me on Saturday night he was sure I'd have more to say :-)
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Offline Badlad

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2014, 03:04:38 pm »
Administrator Comment Advance notice. To ALL forum users.People from both sides of the argument are passionate about access issues. In the past, posting on this subject has descended into baiting, bullying and bickering. We have been told time and time again that this puts people off UKcaving. I am sure forum users would rather be informed, hear others' opinions and be entertained. So, please at all times, keep discussion civil. Thank you in advance.

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2014, 05:05:26 pm »
2) One of the major reasons for restricting access to some caves is on conservation grounds. Those in favour of CroW argue that restrictions can be kept in place, where necessary, by use of Section 26 orders under the Act. However, as no such order has – as yet - ever been applied to caves for the obvious reason that the relevant government agencies (DEFRA and Natural England) do not think that CroW applies to the underground, it is not known what criteria would be applied to these decisions, how long the process might take and whether any restrictions could be legally kept in place during the process. All we can be sure of is that Natural England will not have additional resources to deal with this, neither now, for known caves, nor in the future, for new discoveries.
There are several errors in this section.

Natural England state "2.1.10 Application cases must normally be decided within six weeks of receipt unless the relevant authority proposes a long-term restriction, in which case the application must be decided within four months. The relevant authority may take longer where necessary to make its decision, but only with the consent of the applicant." in http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/5064677780357120] [url]http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/5064677780357120[/url].  In the same document at Annex K page 194 (which deal with the process for consultation for long term restrictions) states "The urgency of the circumstances giving rise to the proposal should not be factor in deciding the time allowed for consultation. Where a relevant authority believes a restriction is needed urgently, it may give a direction restricting access for less than six months, while separately consulting on a related long-term restriction proposal."  This was discussed in late October at http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17188.msg226754#msg226754 and the following two postings by Graham Mullen and myself. 

The same process for issuing Section 26 Directions is also used for issuing a Section 25 Direction to withdraw the right of access to land at risk of fire; something which can be done in a matter of days (see 4th paragraph on p2 at http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/104002)

A Section 26 direction has been issued for a parcel of land which includes a cave entrance as was noted at BCA's Council meeting on 10 October.  (I am advised that the topic of access to that cave was discussed by the local access forum in its deliberations.)  So currently one cannot use CRoW to obtain access to the entrance but have to seek permission of the land owner to do so. 


Offline Cookie

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2014, 05:14:55 pm »
A Section 26 direction has been issued for a parcel of land which includes a cave entrance as was noted at BCA's Council meeting on 10 October.  (I am advised that the topic of access to that cave was discussed by the local access forum in its deliberations.)  So currently one cannot use CRoW to obtain access to the entrance but have to seek permission of the land owner to do so.

Yes, this is the example where Section 26 has excluded everyone from the cave; cavers and the general public alike.
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Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: CSCC's position on CRoW
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2014, 05:30:33 pm »
A Section 26 direction has been issued for a parcel of land which includes a cave entrance as was noted at BCA's Council meeting on 10 October.  (I am advised that the topic of access to that cave was discussed by the local access forum in its deliberations.)  So currently one cannot use CRoW to obtain access to the entrance but have to seek permission of the land owner to do so.

Yes, this is the example where Section 26 has excluded everyone from the cave; cavers and the general public alike.
That is wrong.  All that has happened is that the public does not have a right of access under CRoW.  However, the land owner can give permission to any member of the public to walk across that land or indeed assuming CRoW applies to caves, go down the cave.   Just as a land owner can give people permission to do other things on his land not allowed by CRoW such as bathe, drive a vehicle or even dig.

And by the way, this is why an issued Section 26 Directions need not upset any existing access agreement.

Offline Bob Mehew

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