Author Topic: Cambrian CC newsletter  (Read 6828 times)

Offline NigR

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #25 on: July 14, 2014, 02:35:55 pm »
It is not my intention to deter anyone from contributing to this forum.

I enjoyed reading Damian's critique of the CCC newsletter and (like Badlad) I look forward to any further contributions along similar lines that he might care to make in the future.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2014, 06:21:21 pm »

 I am looking forward to the BCA secretary applying this same scrutiny to all the regions newsletters/publications and posting his comments about them on UKC.

What I had in mind when I wrote this was that it seemed rare (unprecedented) for the BCA secretary to publically correct a regional council's publication like this.  The corrections seemed to be quite pedantic and possibly plain wrong.

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1) The quotation attributed to Andy Eavis is incorrect. At the BCA AGM he did not say that he "cannot see how the CRoW Act does not apply to caving" but instead, he "cannot see how the CRoW Act will not apply to caving." There is an important distinction here, involving at a minimum some changes in legal advice from Natural England first!

This suggests The BCA Chairman said he thought CRoW will apply to caving rather than does apply to caving.  If it turns out that CRoW does apply to caving then it will have applied to caving since the Act became law - a rather academic point to argue.  I cannot remember exactly what words the chairman used at the meeting , but he made it clear that he thought CRoW applied to caving, not just at the AGM, but also in conversations with people during the weekend.

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2) David Judson's statement about the CRoW Act and its application to caving was removed from the BCA website because it had not been approved by BCA Council (rather than Executive). That's a small point, but I might as well correct it while I'm covering the other things here.

I may as well correct this as a small point too.  The secretary has admitted in correspondence on the subject that the 'BCA statement on CRoW' was only removed from the web site by accident when the site was revamped in January.  As the secretary confirmed to me this was fortuitous as it saved him from having to take it down after my article in Descent had drawn his attention to it, several months later, in April.  It was only then realised that the statement had not received council approval.

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However 10 months later, between the deadline for Agenda Items and the 2014 AGM itself, some cavers began independently pushing even further in their quest for CRoW to apply to caving.

The 'so called' independent cavers did not begin pushing even further between these dates.  The independent cavers have been looking into this issue for some considerable time.  Having discovered that there might be a good case for caving to come under CRoW it was decided many months ago to seek out a legal opinion.  A number of options for seeking that opinion was considered.  What is true is that one of those options came to fruition between the deadline for agenda items and the AGM itself.  However, this was independent of BCA and should not have affected there ability to act on the matter.

What I don't understand is why the BCA secretary chose the CCC newsletter report of the BCA AGM to make a number of fairly minor points in public.  For several years the CNCC publically minuted an argument between themselves and the various officers of the BCA including the BCA Chairman and the E&T Committee Chair.  The interpretation of the events put forward by CNCC officers included accusations of deceit, lies and requests for resignations.  Forgive me if I am wrong but I don't remember the same BCA secretary publically correcting any of those statements made by CNCC.

I hope that the BCA secretary uses his position to scrutinise and correct all the regional council's public statements and not just those where the topic is access under CRoW.

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2015, 10:26:33 pm »

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2016, 10:36:29 pm »
There  is another newsletter available now at:
http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/newsletters/48%20jan2016.pdf
This has 2 "bonus pages" and interesting article on a significant new cave.

Contains info on the Castlemartin Range East / Ogof Gofan and the Range West access arrangements for 2016.  Situation normal - so same as last year basically except that the military have booked more use of it in 2016 which may impact on public access opportunities.

The NRW mines access agreement is currently in negotiation for annual renewal from 3 March which we hope will complete on time as I'm suggesting visits to Bryneglwys Slate Quarry on 12 March which is the day before the CCC AGM for anyone wanting to make a weekend of it in Mid-Wales.   Intending mine explorers will need to re-register with caveaccess.co.uk after 3rd March assuming the access renewal process with NRW is all on course.  More details about this mine including some pics at:
http://rakelane.anduin.org.uk/cal/bryneglwys.pdf
Can't understand why this mine is so much off the caving radar as it's a big and interesting one.  I've been a couple of times and not seen all of it yet.


Offline Stuart France

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2016, 10:52:47 pm »
The April 2016 CCC newsletter is now available here:
http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/newsletters/49_April2016.pdf

... with news and photos of the new cave in Denbighshire, various conservation/access writing projects I'd like help and ideas for, issues with fixed aids on the Croesor-Rhosydd route, a record hibernating bat count for Eglwys Faen as seems to be the case at other caves in South Wales too, and the cave rescue practice/caving gear auction/BBQ at Whitewalls on Saturday 4th June - please support this event if you can

Ogof Carno.  I'm putting together a proper proposal to Welsh Water to restore access for cavers through their adit.  I need cave photos and stories and any decent surveys for this job please.  Anyone who can help, please contact me through my email address on the Cambrian website.  At the moment, all I have is Clive Gardener's account running up to 2001 (the Foot and Mouth disease year if you remember that).

Stuart France

Offline mudman

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2016, 10:33:40 pm »
Stuart,

Re. Carno, you have a PM (or at least you should do  :confused:)

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2016, 10:57:54 pm »
Well, no posts here for 120+ days.  But there's another newsletter just been published at:
http://cambriancavingcouncil.org.uk/pdf/newsletters/51_oct2016.pdf

This has news of the Hafna Mine access agreement, fracking plans in Forest of Dean abandoned, a 90-year old statutory right to go caving, explosives tests in the Clydach Gorge and upcoming cave access interruptions while the A465 gets widened, and some more pollution in Little Neath.

The July edition didn't draw much comment here but also carried interesting articles.  Thanks to everyone who responded with information about Ogof Carno after my request in July.  I have since sent in quite a detailed access restoration proposal to Welsh Water and am now awaiting some news.

We're still waiting for any kind of meaningful response from NRW over the Draethen Lead Mines following submission of a report by a professional bat consultant recommending a seasonal May-Sept explorer access system, after he carried out 3 bat surveys in the mine between Jan-June 2016.  Well, it's October again now, and so too late to get anything running in 2016.  But please may I ask that people don't visit these mines over the winter while we carry on with trying to resolve this access matter with NRW.

To end on a positive note, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation that manages the Castlemartin Firing Range land is very happy with the way their access agreements with us for Ogof Gofan and Range West are working out.  So the same systems as were used in 2016 will operate again in 2017.  More details on the CCC website.

Stuart France
Access/Conservation Officer
Cambrian Caving Council

Offline AWW

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #32 on: October 22, 2016, 01:24:34 pm »
Good stuff Stuart.
Are Draethen mines still out of bounds then? I saw some Facebook posts of a group visiting them so had assumed it was okay now.

Offline Minion

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #33 on: October 22, 2016, 01:59:11 pm »
Good stuff Stuart.
Are Draethen mines still out of bounds then? I saw some Facebook posts of a group visiting them so had assumed it was okay now.

The group in question have been to the mines twice during the closed season. Posting a number of photos both times.

I'm surprised NRW or CAL haven't been notified of them before now.

Offline Dave Tyson

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #34 on: October 22, 2016, 03:18:48 pm »
Good stuff Stuart.
Are Draethen mines still out of bounds then? I saw some Facebook posts of a group visiting them so had assumed it was okay now.

The group in question have been to the mines twice during the closed season. Posting a number of photos both times.

I'm surprised NRW or CAL haven't been notified of them before now.

We are still trying to get official access to Draethen Mines and have bent over backwards to organise a bat survey and access plan. Part of the NRW dealing with bats have consistently ignored our communications and those from Dr Peter Smith who produced a report on the bat population. We hoped  to be allowed access in August/September and then a closed season from end September till end April 2017, but that hasn't happened and given the stance of the NRW bat people nothing will now happen till next year.

Bat hibernation is now starting to take place as a days grow colder and we hope groups will respect the need to stay out.  We knew groups entered the mine on more than one occasion and I believe Stuart  is contacting the people in question. The CAL website had noted that there is no access and I personally think posting photographs and a trip report on the web is mindless stupidity.

If and when we get a firm agreement then I will update the CAL website and post here and on aditnow.

Dave

[with his CAL Director hat on] 


Offline Stuart France

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #35 on: October 22, 2016, 03:48:12 pm »
If I can add to Dave's comments and the previous:  there isn’t any "open/closed season" at Draethen.  It is currently closed to explorers until we complete negotiations with NRW to open it on agreed terms.

The Draethen Mines are owned by the Welsh Government (i.e. former Forestry Commission Wales) which was a government body but is now a component of the super-quango called Natural Resources Wales (NRW).  The forestry byelaws apply to mines in forests generally, and this means the public is not allowed into them without explicit permission. 

But people have been in Draethen mines for years on an ad hoc basis, probably unaware of the need to get permission.  There are lots of used cyalume sticks.  We found a pair of jeans and Calvin Klein underpants and trainers in a side passage deep into the mine.  Goodness knows why they are there.  There’s lots of yellow arrows painted on the walls and cairns to mark the way out.  None of that sounds like experienced cavers to me as they never lose their pants, but if cavers were amongst these visitors, then all I can do is ask they don’t visit the mines while we continue to try to establish an explorer access protocol with NRW, and once that is in place then to obtain legal access through CAL.

I can only speak for Cave Access Ltd (CAL) which has contracts since March 2015 to provide explorers with access, now at 11 sites, one of which is Draethen mines.  The CAL directors, myself included, have a clear right under this contract to access the properties (mines) ourselves.  We can also allow our Nominees, who are BCA CIMs/DIMs or a foreign equivalent, or Outdoor Education leaders to have access.

There are pages and pages of caveats in the contracts, one of which is to comply with any Site Specific Restrictions (SSR).  These have proved to be a problem only at the Draethen mines site, so I will quote the Draethen SSR from the CAL contract in full here:

“This is a known lesser horseshoe roost/hibernation site.  The Licensee (i.e. CAL) shall provide the Licensor (i.e. NRW) with a management plan for approval prior to accessing the site.  This is also an area of increased ecological interest and the Licensee shall liaise and maintain regular contact with the Licensor in relation to its use”.

From CAL’s point of view, we have complied with the spirit and letter of the SSR by running a research project involving Dr Peter Smith who is a professional bat consultant, John Stevens who is an experienced surveyor, and myself representing CAL.  NRW's land agent authorised our visits in January, March and June 2016.  We provided NRW with reports and proposed a management plan which was for a seasonal explorer access system for May-September periods.

The land agent has been our point of contact in NRW and supportive of our project, and he passed our reports to NRW Species Team colleagues to consider.  The problem is that their Species Team have just sat on our reports ever since, and not even acknowledged receiving them, let alone commented on or accepted our ideas.  To put it politely, this behaviour towards a contract counter-party by some in NRW is far from normal business practice.

NRW's description of the Draethen situation quoted above is not quite right, so I am now going to correct it.  The big mine has a relatively large population of Greater Horseshoe bats, not Lesser Horseshoes.  Many of these rare bats roost in summer in buildings nearby but some travel much further afield.  We saw 60+ GH bats in the big mine in January, far fewer in March, and none in June this year, during our day-time visits.  So a summer-only day-time mine access system is perfectly practical in terms of species conservation, but it is understandable that some staff in NRW remain nervous.

So I would ask that explorers stay away from the mines until we have exhausted all attempts to resolve the access situation.  In the end, CAL may simply have to remove the Draethen Mines from the contract site list if NRW will not engage in any discussion.  It would then revert to the status quo ante where nobody informs potential visitors about species protection matters, and visitors may then be unaware that their visits lack the formal permission that is needed and they could also cause bat disturbance at certain times of the year.

Apologies for the length of this posting, but I want to encourage responsible behaviour by appealing to people’s better judgement through knowing the facts, which is the win-win situation for both cavers and NRW that CAL’s partnership approach to managing access was designed to deliver.

Stuart (with CAL hat on)




Offline Minion

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Re: Cambrian CC newsletter
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2016, 03:49:19 pm »
I'm glad you're on the case, Dave. I'd hate to see access completely lost due to their deeds. I hope it doesn't affect the ongoing negotiations with DCWW regarding Carno, either.