Author Topic: Clear Information source for CROW voters (!)  (Read 2458 times)

Offline cavermark

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Clear Information source for CROW voters (!)
« on: December 02, 2014, 08:00:18 pm »
I'd like to create a "one stop" resource for people who want to know more about the CROW issue - the MAIN arguments for and against, and the various implications/theories etc.

A number of people have mentionned outside of the forum that they want some information, but that it is nearly impossible to find on here in an easy way.

What I DON'T WANT is pages of replies debating every aspect, bickering and needing to have the last word/be right - Maybe people can start a new thread for that, which the non forum regulars can refer to if they want to (they won't), along with all the other "debating" threads.

I'm reposting a reply that Bob Mehew wrote on here, that seems to cover quite a lot of the key points, and I'll put the CSCC positon on too.  Anyone with similar objective pieces to add, can do.

Do you think you can behave yourselves for this?

Thanks
Mark

Bob's post:
Issue 240 of Descent at page 26 to 28 contains a balanced article. 
http://tinyurl.com/pro-CRoW-caving-01 contains the document put out by Tim, Jenny & I at Hidden Earth. 
http://tinyurl.com/pro-CRoW-caving-02 contains some details about how Section 26 operates.   
http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17182.0 covers opposing views on the impact on digging (which is not covered by CRoW).

Offline cavermark

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Re: Clear Information source for CROW voters (!)
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2014, 08:01:22 pm »
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.

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Clear Information source for CROW voters (!)
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 10:43:38 pm »
Good initiative, Cavermark, I hope someone in the 'pro lobby' can offer a suitable response to the CSCC viewpoint. :thumbsup:

Reason 2

There are several errors in this section re "how long the process might take and whether any restrictions could be legally kept in place during the process" and "However, as no such order has – as yet - ever been applied to caves"

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] http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/5064677780357120.  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.

plus

Quote from: Cookie re last para

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

Quote from: Bob Mehew

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.

(This was posted within the thread at http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17403.msg228951#msg228951 )

Reason 3

"landowners may be less willing to grant digging permissions as these will increase their own liability for what is happening on their land." .  That is wrong.  CRoW makes no  difference what so ever to the actual liability.  What Botltebank claimed it might do is make an apparent increase in risk because the risk for ordinary caving has shrunk to zero.  See http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17182.msg225962#msg225962.

"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."  is also wrong, see rebuttal in 2 above.

Reason 4

"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." is way out of date.  At the C&A meeting on 22 Nov, it as stated that two major land owners in Derbyshire and several in the Dales have indicated that they would welcome CROW applying to caving as it would remove the liability concern.

Online Pegasus

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Re: Clear Information source for CROW voters (!)
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 11:29:53 pm »
Other posts removed simply for clarity, thank you

Offline Badlad

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Re: Clear Information source for CROW voters (!)
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2014, 10:27:38 am »
I expect the OP would like to see a bullet point list from the ‘yes’ camp, so here is mine.  Clubs who have already distributed the CSCC position to their members may copy and distribute this as the counter if they wish.

1.   The poll is only asking if the BCA should campaign for greater access to caves under CROW legislation.  The voting paper makes it clear that many of the concerns of the ‘no’ campaign will be taken into account.

2.   Bringing recreational caving under CROW, as the barrister’s opinion has suggested, will grant a legal right of access to around 2500 cave entrances in England and Wales.  This will help secure the long term future of caving.  At present access solely relies on the goodwill of the landowner, and there are many reasons, such as loss of insurance, why that goodwill may evaporate.

3.   Access under CROW reduces the landowners’ liability to the lowest possible in law.  This is very attractive to many landowners.

4.   Most permit systems and closed seasons would vanish.  Cavers would have more choice and be less tempted to go ahead with trips in bad weather as ‘dry’ trips could be arranged more easily.

5.   A legal right of access fosters a greater sense of ownership.  A greater sense of ownership leads to a more caring caver and a willingness to be more involved in conservation.  Under the status quo the BCA’s Conservation Committee last met in 2009, already the CROW debate has encouraged regular meetings and a review of education and conservation practices.  A right of access will mean better conservation for our caves.

6.   Cavers are not stepping into unchartered waters.  The British Mountaineering Council went through a very similar debate and process many years ago.  They had a small but very vocal anti CROW lobby who were concerned about conservation, upsetting landowners, being able to put up new routes, etc.  In the end those concerns were unfounded and today few in the BMC would consider that CROW has been anything but good for the sport.