Author Topic: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range  (Read 2405 times)

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2017, 01:13:51 am »
I do wonder about NRW. I can sort of see an overlap between EA and CCW, both of which were preservative bodies, but not Forestry - obviously an extractive body. 60million saving pa (I think). I'd be not surprised if they are still trying to find their feet, and struggling with finances. I can see the attraction here of maximising desk based studies, working with GIS shapefiles and the like, and not interacting too much with the actual countryside, or people who find recreation therein.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2017, 09:29:24 am »
I had a reply back from my request for information.

-------------------------------------------

YOUR REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
I am writing in respect of your request for information (ATI) dated 27 June 2017 under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) (2004).
You requested NRW to provide you with:
I have been tasked with finding out information regarding requests for Police Attendance at Caves in the Clwydian Range in North East Wales.
I believe that there have been a number of police Presence requests by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and also the National Resources Wales (NRW) at cave sites in the Clwydian Range, Specifically in the Special areas of Conservation of Loggerheads and also sites near Cilcain.
I would like to request the following details of these visits.
Date of Police Visit
Reason for Police Attendance
Department of NRW (or CCW) requesting Visit.
Outcome of the Visit.
Following a search of CCW’s archives we have found 2 instances of police presence
both of which were reported at the same time during the summer of 2008.

1) Ogof Nadolig
This involved underground excavation and dumping of spoil on the surface. Following a visit from Wildlife Crime Officer I presume the excavation work ceased. During the last site visit there didn’t appear to be any material being brought to the surface. The Officer visited the cavers, however there is no detail of the visit on file.

2) Ogof Hen Ffynnohonau (Poachers Cave)
A new entrance was being dug to try and access the far end of the cave in order to allow through visits. Following correspondence with the caving group involved (United Cavers Exploration Trust – UCET) and the landowner remedial work was carried out to back fill the excavation. The Wildlife Crime Officer had correspondence with UCET but not aware of any
site visits.

I have checked our records, and can confirm that we do not hold any information regarding
The exact Date of Police Visit, Department of NRW (or CCW) requesting Visitor or Outcome
of the Visit. Therefore Regulation 12(4)(a) Environmental Information Regulations (2004)
applies. Information not held. North Wales Police would hold the information that you are
requesting
We now consider that we have complied with your request. However, if you are dissatisfied
with our response you are entitled to pursue this matter through our appeals procedure, a
copy of which is below
Yours sincerely
Nerys Griffith
Access to Information Officer
Rights of appeal
If you are not satisfied with our response to your request, you can contact us to ask for our
decision to be reviewed, please write to:
Catherine Smith
Director of Communications
Natural Resources Wales Ty
Cambria, 29 Newport Road,
Cardiff, CF24 0TP.
catherine.smith@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk
If you are still not satisfied following this, you can make an appeal to the Information
Commissioner, who is the statutory regulator for Freedom of Information. The address is:
Office of the Information Commissioner,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Tel: 0303 123 113
Fax: 01625 524 510.
E-mail: casework@ico.org.uk.
Website: http//www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2017, 10:41:48 am »
Yes ....

I have the "full" details of both and they both relate to the events as previously outlined.

 >:(

Ian
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Offline alastairgott

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2017, 11:16:08 am »
1) Ogof Nadolig
Following a visit from Wildlife Crime Officer I presume the excavation work ceased... The Officer visited the cavers, however there is no detail of the visit on file.

It is clear from the report that they do not believe that they spoke to the correct cavers. Therefore they seem to have left the report vague (presume) and does not detail the visit to "the cavers". presumably because those people they visited were adamant this was not their dig.

2) Ogof Hen Ffynnohonau (Poachers Cave)
A new entrance was being dug to try and access the far end of the cave in order to allow through visits... The Wildlife Crime Officer had correspondence with UCET but not aware of any
site visits.

It is sad that they think the only thing Cavers are interested in is "through visits" and not further extension of the end of the cave.
 It is also sad to note that it appears they did not deem a site visit necessary.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2017, 11:28:32 am »
1) Yes, they knew they had the "wrong" cavers, it didn't stop the police sergeant from arriving at the "scene" with a pre-fabrication magistrates summons though. Incidentally, the order is wrong. Poacher's was first then Nadolig. Presumably, they "guessed" it was the same cavers and so arrived armed with a court summons?


2) Poacher's. The report does not reflect the facts. There had been a sink/drop/fall/collapse at the far end of Poacher's with some quarried spoil material falling into the back end of the cave system (it's still there inside). The work UCET did (with landowner permission) was to restore the collapse (or whatever word is appropriate) and, at the same time, fix an entrance/exit.   It is correct there was no previous way through and it is correct it would create a "through" trip. However, the area was strewn with dumped garbage (made mention of by another postee earlier in the thread) and waste quarry material had already gone through into the cave. Making it "safe" (and usable) was not unreasonable and certainly did not require the force of the law BEFORE even having a "chat" especially since the diggers had permission.

 >:(

Ian
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Offline AWW

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2017, 12:04:45 am »
Just had a read through most of this thread and became a little alarmed.
From what I've read, it appears that NRW may become a bit upset about cavers that are digging underground if the cave in question is within a SSSI. Is this true?
Does this mean that pushing of any likely leads that requires excavation, removal of boulders etc. underground, even if the cave is not a designated SSSI but the land it is under is,  haS to have permission from NRW?

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2017, 07:26:45 am »
Well .....

CCW (now NRW) state they have specifically designated three  caves within the Alyn Valley as SSSI (Nadolig, Poachers and Hesp Alyn).

The first problem with that is that, according to the diggers at Nadolig and according to the landowners in both cases, they were unaware of the scheduling. (I can't attest to how true that is).

The second problem is that, when the floor dropped out of the Leete cave, they argued that this cave and all the others in the area were also (notwithstanding not being mentioned) designated SSSI.

So, I do not know.

 :(

Ian
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Offline AWW

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2017, 07:58:13 am »
Thanks Ian.
So the trouble you've had is in relation to specifically designated caves.
I am thinking of South Wales caves where a lot of caves,  many with potential for extension can be found underneath SSSI land but haven't been specifically designated. It will be a bit of a pain if we have to seek permission to dig in them.

Online cavemanmike

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2017, 08:14:35 am »
Ive been Speaking to other cavers around the country and they seem be have a good relationship between their nrw/natural England officers.
The problem WE have up in north wales is are local nrw offices don't seem to want to come on board with the caving community. There quite happy to go around waving a big stick rather than being sympathetic or understand to our plight  :unsure:
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 08:23:24 am by cavemanmike »

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2017, 08:54:41 am »
So the trouble you've had is in relation to specifically designated caves.


Yes .... but ....

In the case of Poacher's UCET didn't know about the scheduling (I can attest to that) and the landowner gave us permission and later stated he was unaware of the schedule (I cannot attest to the latter).

In the case of Nadolig, it wasn't UCET digging but the court summons was pre-fabricated in the secretary's name. The diggers had been there for 10+ years PRIOR to the scheduling and no one consulted or told them. Again, the landowner stated he was unaware. (The "dig" was discovered 5 years after the schedule by the CCW officer wandering around on private land).

In the case of the Leete cave, it ISN'T named on the schedule but, after a meeting with NRW, they arbitrarily decided that ALL caves within the Alyn Gorge were covered notwithstanding they are not listed (and three specifically are).

The "goo" we wanted to dig through consisted of surface material containing 50+ years of campers rubbish (beer cans, glass bottles, crisp packets etc.) which the water underneath had "sucked in". This, they said, was SSSI.

 :-\

Ian
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Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2017, 08:57:18 am »
Thanks Ian.
So the trouble you've had is in relation to specifically designated caves.
I am thinking of South Wales caves where a lot of caves,  many with potential for extension can be found underneath SSSI land but haven't been specifically designated. It will be a bit of a pain if we have to seek permission to dig in them.
You would be safer to assume if your cave is on SSSI designated land whether or not specifically mentioned, then it is caught by what ever the designation says.  I am not familiar with many SSSI designations, but obviously it must have some relationship with a cave, be it by citing just the word geology.  One of the problems I have is when the designation claims special features, it does not appear to identify quite what they are.  So is the designation just related to those special features within the cave or the whole cave?  (Obviously if a SSSI is raised for say a special plant and specifically only mentions that plant, then it is not covering say grass growing alongside it which is not mentioned, nor the cave which might lie under it.)

The other thing is the designation usually contains a set of operations which require consent to undertake (they used to be called PDOs).  Some PDOs actually gave away the control of the consent (see Mendip caves).  Notionally if the activity is not covered by a need to gain consent, then one dos not require a consent.  But no doubt some will read what is covered by the operation more widely than others.  And of course other legislation may also apply (bats immediately spring to mind). 

For further information try either

https://naturalresources.wales/guidance-and-advice/environmental-topics/wildlife-and-biodiversity/find-protected-areas-of-land-and-seas/sites-of-special-scientific-interest-sssis/?lang=en

or

https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteSearch.aspx

or

http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/protected-areas/national-designations/sssis/sssi-location/

and look up the area in which your cave is located.  Remember ignorance is no defence in law.

Offline AR

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2017, 10:06:41 am »
If the surface area is designated as SSSI, then I understand that unless specifically excluded, any caves/mines underneath are considered part of the SSSI. The list of operations likely to require consent are given on the DCA website at http://thedca.org.uk/sssi-monitoring/sssi-legislation, likewise the leaflet on good practice for digging in a SSSI : http://thedca.org.uk/images/dca/publications/leaflets/Cave-Digging.pdf

Unfortunately, without co-operation and understanding from the statutory body it's pretty academic. One can only assume that the NRW officers want to encourage illicit digging by their behaviour, though of course if they haven't a clue what is and isn't of importance underground they can't make value judgments....

Dirty old mines need love too....

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #37 on: August 01, 2017, 10:17:46 am »
The SSSI designation referred to the "glacial sediment" within the caves named (ie. Nadolig, Poachers and Hesp Alyn).  That was within the CCW "blurb" which now appears to have vanished within the transition to NRW (I have it printed off though).

No other caves are mentioned and no other attribute is listed.

Nevertheless - all of the above occurred and continues to occur including arbitrary decisions and extensions to the "pre-existing" schedule to include every cave and every element thereof.

 :blink:

Ian
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Offline alastairgott

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2017, 10:52:47 am »
The SSSI designation referred to the "glacial sediment" within the caves named (ie. Nadolig, Poachers and Hesp Alyn).

Ian, are there any caves which you're desperate to dig?

If you could get permission for Nadolig, would the old hands get back to it?
or have they been put off by the heavy hands?

Or would it be worth getting permission for a dig up on Esclusham Mountain? It's a place where they certainly couldn't get excited about glacial sediment. Given most of the holes up there are stream sinks, most of the mud is broken off lumps of peat bog.

We could get permission and then show them the benefits of cave digging.

Location?
I'm thinking Grid Ref SJ 252 498 (or in the vicinity)
 A good stream sink on the south of the road, and the site of previous cave digs. Takes water from nearby reservoirs.

Getting permission and "doing it properly" could work wonders for future dig prospects in the Alyn Valley?

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2017, 11:13:33 am »

Ian, are there any caves which you're desperate to dig?



Actually no.

The thread demonstrates the unwillingness of CCW/NRW to entertain the concept or idea of cavers "recreating" or making "progress". It also serves to show the heavy handiness that they arbitrarily sweep down with a sledge hammer.

Nadolig had nothing to do with the club I am a member of.

Poachers was a "collapse" we were fixing and taking advantage of (also the site of rubbish dumping).

The Leete cave IS interesting but "water" will do all the work when winter comes and they (NRW/CCW) have already said "no" to our request (to poke a rod in) at a face-to-face meeting.

.... Probably there are some excellent potential sites (like the one I made mention of earlier on the Clwydian Hills (Penycloddiau)) but I am not a digger (happy to watch!) and have less than zero desire to patronise these people just to get to a raised hand in my face with the letters "N" and "O" stamped across.

Ian
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Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2017, 11:19:21 am »
By the way,

The grid reference you gave (Minera) is the stomping ground of NWCC (North Wales Caving Club) and they will almost certainly have had a peep.

There is a good chance Dave Tyson (who is a regular here) is also aware of it.....

 ;)

Ian
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Offline alastairgott

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2017, 11:31:47 am »
The Leete cave IS interesting but "water" will do all the work when winter comes and they (NRW/CCW) have already said "no" to our request (to poke a rod in) at a face-to-face meeting.

Probably wont be any homes for bats when the winter takes its course.

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2017, 12:22:07 pm »
The list of operations likely to require consent are given on the DCA website at http://thedca.org.uk/sssi-monitoring/sssi-legislation,
Although operations likely to require consent / PDOs may be similar within one area, there is variability between areas.  For example the Mendip PDOs include "Modification of the entrance (except as part  of normal caving activities such as surface or underground digging to seek new caves or entrances) to Swildon’s Hole, Eastwater Cavern and Hunter’s Hole, including their blocking or infilling. ".  It is worth reading with great care the full citation and list of operations requiring consent for the land you are focused on.  And as I said, if the activity is not covered by a need to gain consent, then one does not require a consent.  (Though it is no doubt worth while informing the relevant body as a matter of courtesy.)

Offline alastairgott

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2017, 01:58:58 pm »
Quote from: NRW SSSI [url=https://naturalresources.wales/media/638451/SSSI_0241_SMS_EN001f961.pdf
https://naturalresources.wales/media/638451/SSSI_0241_SMS_EN001f961.pdf[/url]]3.7 The Alyn Gorge Caves, comprising three cave systems within the Carboniferous
Limestone
The caves should continue to demonstrate how geological structure, lithology and
water flow influence passage profile. The range and distribution of sediments
deposited in the caves should also continue to provide evidence of the solution and
stream processes that have occurred over time. A variety of calcite formations should
occur throughout the caves, providing an insight into the history of the caves and the
contemporary environments. Access to the three cave systems, namely Ogof Hesp
Alyn, Ogof Hen Ffynhonnau and Ogof Nadolig, should be available for legitimate
study and research.

I propose a study of Ogof Nadolig with the backing of the British Cave Research Association into the upstream cave morphology currently blocked with sediment. Due to the removal of Sediment, Samples of the sediment will be taken at intervals and provided to the Geologists at the British cave research association for analysis.

All we need to do is frame the dig correctly, get the backing from BCRA and submit the proposal to NRW.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #44 on: August 01, 2017, 10:39:03 pm »

I have had a number of Private messages, many thanks to those who have done so.
 I will attempt to reply tomorrow.

Building on a topic in one of the messages. In the SSSI guidance it has a number of objectives to improve the SSSI of the caves.
 Some of the work which is outlined in the SSSI guidance is all but underway, with data being collected which will greatly help with the production of an objective.

One of the things it talks about is "Education" of the visitors, which got me thinking.

Would it be ok if we made up some signs for the entrances?
My idea would be to produce a less hasty and better copy of this:



Obviously, will need to get rid of Natural England and move the Number 5) but this is the best I could be bothered with in PAINT. (and I'm aware that the points are not actually the minimal impact caving Guidelines either, but I was only doing a quick copy paste job  :chair: )

If people think it's a crap idea, then that's fine, but I'm sure if the sign is for "education" then we could see if there's some money in BCA's training coffers to cover 3 full colour signs for the Alyn Valley.

Offline Andy Farrant

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #45 on: August 01, 2017, 10:50:43 pm »
Just a comment. If you want support from the BCRA for a proposed research project, then you can apply to the Cave Science and Technology Research Fund (CSTRF) to fund sediment or other analyses. But you will need to have a good project proposal with definite aims and a hypothesis to test. Simply providing samples of sediment to "the Geologists at the British cave research association for analysis" won't get you anywhere.

For information, the BCRA does not employ geologists, nor does it undertake geological or any other analyses. Rather, the BCRA does have members who are geologists, some of whom may volunteer to assist cavers with bona fide scientific projects if they are worthwhile and interesting - the key phrase here is 'volunteer'.

If you are suggesting a comprehensive study of the geomorphology and sedimentology of the Alyn Gorge Caves, possibly backed up with some speleothem dates along the lines of that done for Ogof Draenen (see Cave & Karst Science 38(1)) then you may have more luck.
  Andy

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: The untapped scientific potential in caves on the clwydian range
« Reply #46 on: August 01, 2017, 11:14:44 pm »
To add ...

"Looks good".

The sediment that was being "dug out" included (naturally) destroyed formations (or parts thereof).

I think the relevance to the sediment is the "layers" and the geological period they refer to.

 :)

Ian


PS. An abundance of samples already exist.
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