Author Topic: Update on Twll Du  (Read 18994 times)

Offline NameOfTheDragon

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Update on Twll Du
« on: January 11, 2018, 08:38:43 pm »
I received the following report from PDCMG Secretary Sue Mabbett earlier today. Sue attended the site meeting with Cadw and others and has provided the following update:

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Dear PDCMG Clubs Representatives, Committee Members and trustees

Yesterday a meeting organised by Amelia Pannett of CADW was held to discuss and review the illegal excavation on the Garnddyrus Forge and Hills Tramroad, scheduled monument MM189. At this meeting there were representatives from CADW, National Park, Police, Natural Resources Wales, BCA, CCC (Secretary and Conservation/ Access Officer), and PDCMG (secretary (me) and a trustee) and couple of interested local cavers.

The meeting opened with Jon Berry (CADW), outlining the legal requirements to request changes to scheduled monuments and the current legislation which protects scheduled monuments. This current legislation does not allow for ignorance of the law as a defence for any damage to a scheduled monument. In summary as my previous report this new entrance constitutes criminal damage of a scheduled monument. If anyone wants further information on scheduled monuments in Wales and the legislation in place to protect them please contact Amelia, her e-mail is Amelia.Pannett@gov.wales.

A question was raised to ask if permission had been sought for this new entrance if it would have been permitted. In reviewing the site these changes would not have been permitted by CADW due to its location adjacent to a public footpath and the potential to permanently damage the tramway.  Those present representing the statuary bodies; CADW, Police, and National Park Representative (who are responsible for maintaining footpaths) stated that this new entrance to Ogof Draenen must be sealed and the damage to Tramroad repaired to return the site to its original state prior to the excavation.  The police officer, Maldwyn John requested if anyone from the caving community had any information on those who had caused this criminal damage to contact him, any information given maybe in confidence. Maldwyn’s contact details are Tel. 01495 238006 / 07464 645412 or e-mail Maldwyn.John@gwent.pnn.police.uk.

Once the site meeting was finished a small group of those present, including CADW, NRW, PDCMG, CCC and BCA adjourned to NRW offices to discuss how to progress repair of the damage to the Tramroad. This included short term actions to assess potential bat activity through the entrance, protecting the entrance from potential accidental entry and protecting the site from further damage. Longer term activities were also discussed.

One of those activities is for the caving community to be informed that Ogof Draenen must not be entered by this entrance and to do so is a criminal act. CADW will be placing a ‘Stop Notice’ at the site which will also inform the public that this entry must not be used to access Ogof Draenen. This is also the purpose of this e-mail; so PDCMG Club representatives please forward this information to your Club members. If any club representatives requires further clarification or information please contact Amelia or Maldwyn.
Other reports and information will be sent out by CCC and other caving publications. Over the next few weeks a more detailed joint statement will be issued by the caving organisations involved.

Sue Mabbett
PDCMG Secretary

The only thing I would add to that (as a trustee of PDCMG) is to say that much of the area overlying Ogof Draenen is part of a World Heritage Site containing many Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Registered Monuments and other protected features. This land is not ours to do with as we please. Care is needed when doing anything potentially damaging such as opening an entrance. There is no single entrance policy as some are quick to claim, but each matter is considered on a case by case basis and in good faith. This was clarified at the 2009 EGM. PDCMG exists to balance the wishes of cavers with those of the land owner, the need for conservation and the legal requirements of the conservation authorities. It is a difficult but necessary balance. Unilateral action does not help in this task and it often does not reflect well on the caving community as a whole, which is rather unfair on those playing by the rules. It makes far more sense to engage responsibly with PDCMG and then potentially move forward with the backing and support of the caving community. Twll Du was kept secret from PDCMG so that all that can really be done now is to assist Cadw in an attempt to limit the reputational damage to caving. It is to be hoped that both BCA and CCC are clear on their priorities in this regard.

Offline AWW

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 09:39:20 pm »
Unfortunately, PDCMG seem to have a reputation for siding with the landowners and disregarding the interests of cavers that don't share the ethos of the elite few that have been perceived to be controlling the exploration of this cave system. Thus I doubt you'll get much in the way of "responsible engagement" with PDCMG.

Offline Greg Jones

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 10:17:01 pm »
Apparently CADW are now keen to see the Nunnery and Drws entrances closed, as to get to these entrances requires cavers to walk on or across the tramroad, therefore causing further damage. I wonder who it was that brought the other two entrances into the conversation with CADW?
Is the tramroad that runs past Eglwys and Aggy a Scheduled Monument; if so we had better be careful.
I didn't think that my opinion of the PDCMG could sink any lower; but now it has. These vermin will stop at nothing to get their own way. They have nothing in common with the caving community that I have been a member of since the late '70s.
Renegade!

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 10:27:47 pm »
I thought the tram road was a public right of way? Doesn't that mean anyone can walk on it, caver or not?
The distance between stupidity and genius is measured only by success.

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 10:56:57 pm »
I thought the tram road was a public right of way? Doesn't that mean anyone can walk on it, caver or not?

CADW's responsibility is to ensure the long-term protection of the Ancient Monuments. That's their purpose and if they weren't trying their hardest to do that (while still reaching reasonable compromises) then they wouldn't being doing the job they get public funding for. That might including asking for things they aren't legally entitled to.

I expect the same dedication to _gaining_ access from caving access bodies (otherwise we have a classic case of regulatory capture).

It seems a shame this (dug from the inside) entrance has popped up in an initially promising but ultimately unsuitable location. Probably best for the caving community to try and tidy up the site to the best possible and get CADW back on side...

Then find somewhere acceptable to all relevant statutory bodies, get permission and dig a new bloody hole - it might be better to have (initially) one new uncontroversial entrance and lose access to the first than bugger around with the current mess...

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 11:56:12 pm »
One other thing, can someone explain to me how (at a time of cuts to vital public services) it is in the public interest for three publicly funded bodies to be spending,  who knows how much public money,  pursuing this. Aren't there more important things to be doing?
The distance between stupidity and genius is measured only by success.

Offline Greg Jones

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 07:58:55 am »
That is a very good point Pete. Maybe we should all email the police officer who was present, Maldwyn John, and suggest that he spend his time chasing muggers and rapists, rather than cavers.
I have his email address if anyone would like it.
I have emailed him.
Renegade!

Offline Minion

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 08:11:11 am »
Apparently CADW are now keen to see the Nunnery and Drws entrances closed, as to get to these entrances requires cavers to walk on or across the tramroad, therefore causing further damage. I wonder who it was that brought the other two entrances into the conversation with CADW?

Interesting. I’ve not heard about this!

Where did you get that info? Do you have any proof of this claim? If so, we could put it to PDCMG and ask why they didn’t bring that to the attention of the caving world in their latest email.

Offline BradW

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 08:31:15 am »
That is a very good point Pete. Maybe we should all email the police officer who was present, Maldwyn John, and suggest that he spend his time chasing muggers and rapists, rather than cavers.
I have his email address if anyone would like it.
I have emailed him.
Please post up any reply you get, Mr Badger. We'd love to read it. Thanks.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2018, 10:40:29 am »
These vermin will stop at nothing to get their own way. They have nothing in common with the caving community that I have been a member of since the late '70s.

lol, contradiction from 13 years ago?

Brains.
This is an excellent can of worms. What did we get hot under the collar about before insurance became an issue. I know access has caused problems in some places for many years.
Gates are a thorny subject. I know instances where they definitely protect the cave (Otter Hole); where they protect the unwary visitor (Otter Hole); where they protect bats. The majority of caves in the north benefit from being far way from major centres of population, whereas those in South Wales and Mendips are close to some large towns with their quotas of feckless youths who would prove their manhood by vandalising places of beauty. Go to Mallorca to see what happens to ungated, easy access, well-decorated caves near large towns.
I totally agree that if you have nothing then you have no need of insurance as you are not worth sueing. I do not have nothing however, and some miserable bugger might just have a go, especially as it would probably cost them nothing to sue me, but it would cost me a fortune to fight them. So I will begrudgingly continue to pay my premiums until the government see sense, and legislate to take away the threat of this type of stupid litigation.

Offline Andy Farrant

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 10:56:08 am »
As the Geological officer on PDCMG committee I am surprised to see this report, as it had not been emailed to me (or is in a spam box somewhere), nor was I aware Sue was having a site meeting. From the photos I have seen (I have yet to visit the site), it is quite likely that Twll Ddu is a natural shaft which had been blocked, possibly during construction of the tramway?. The top of this has been excavated, so there is a debate to be had as to what extent is the entrance a natural feature. This does not of course condone any damage to the tramway. As for the suggestion that "CADW are now keen to see the Nunnery and Drws entrances closed, as to get to these entrances requires cavers to walk on or across the tramroad, therefore causing further damage", I think we need bit of common sense here. I would be very opposed to closing cave entrances on the basis of not being allowed to use a public right of way. I would be surprised if that is CADW's position.

Andy

Offline Greg Jones

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 02:16:47 pm »
Alastairgott.
There is no contradiction. It is not the gate that I have a problem with, it is the single gate policy. If you took the time to read my posts you would know this. The RFDCC, and other cavers, have been digging, without success, at various sites for over 30 years in an effort to find alternative entrances into Otter Hole. Otter Hole does not have a "single entrance" policy.
I have a similar the people who control the access into the extensions of Charterhouse Cave. In March 2008 we were told that the extension would remain off limits to anyone nut the diggers for a "period of time". AFAIAA access is still difficult.
Renegade!

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 02:22:06 pm »
That's because it is flooded much of the time ATAIAA!

Offline Greg Jones

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 02:25:04 pm »
I have emailed CADW to ask them on what grounds they would consider offering assistance to PDCMG with the sealing of the Nunnery and Drws Cefn entrances.
I have absolutely no doubt that the comments of the CADW representative at the meeting were not recorded, and that CADW will deny to me that any such comments were ever made.
But let's see.
If I get responses from CADW or Gwent Police I will post them here.

mrdoc - please enlighten me as to the meaning of ATAIAA. It's a new one to me.
Renegade!

Online maxf

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 02:30:34 pm »
That's because it is flooded much of the time ATAIAA!

I'm sure Pete will put us right but access to the bottom is allowed if conditions are right, it's the the passing along of projects that's aren't likely to be ever tackled by the aging (no offence meant on age terms it comes to us all) diggers that is the issue in Charterhouse.

Offline JohnMCooper

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 02:55:16 pm »
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please enlighten me as to the meaning of ATAIAA

Wonder if it was a mistype for AFAIAA - As far as I am aware?

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 05:09:54 pm »
As an aside, while all cavers are entitled to put their views forward, sticking their oars in (so to speak) with external booties is likely to have a negative result with the statutory bodies; a caving body (you've got the PDCMG, CCC and BCA to pick from) is likely to be a safer option. We will all be better if we present a single united front (or even two opposing fronts) as it will make CADW's etc's life easier, and getting them on board has to be a good thing.

Online Ian Ball

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 05:45:43 pm »
Is that a single contact policy?   ;)

Offline Greg Jones

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2018, 06:02:51 pm »
I have received a response from PC John, pointing out that he has a duty to respond to a report of a crime.
I have suggested that he read through all the posts on the subject of Draenen's entrances, as a cure for insomnia if nothing else.
I have received an automated reply from CADW.
Renegade!

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2018, 06:20:38 pm »
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I have received a response from PC John, pointing out that he has a duty to respond to a report of a crime.

Do we know who, if anyone did the dobbing in?

Offline John S

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2018, 06:29:44 pm »
it is quite likely that Twll Ddu is a natural shaft which had been blocked, possibly during construction of the tramway?. The top of this has been excavated, so there is a debate to be had as to what extent is the entrance a natural feature.

When i first saw the entrance before all the damage (presumably by the anti-entrance fraternity), It was though what looked like boulder clay to within 2 to 3 cm of the surface, then topsoil and grass. I failed to see any chippings or clinker. My photos don't show any either.
So it seems natural all the way to the surface. I wonder if the pile of clay and debris at the base of the shaft hides any bones etc, if it was ever an open shaft. Andy maybe able to postulate so some scenarios. It should have an excavation done on it before its sealed. What body would be responsible for doing that I wonder ?

Offline Greg Jones

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2018, 02:45:11 pm »
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I have received a response from PC John, pointing out that he has a duty to respond to a report of a crime.

Do we know who, if anyone did the dobbing in?

I would assume that it is CADW who actually contacted the Police, but it may have been members of the PDCMG. However, I am quite sure that the PDCMG knew full well that when they reported the "damage" to CADW the Police would be informed.
Renegade!

Offline mattwire

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2018, 03:00:04 pm »
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One of those activities is for the caving community to be informed that Ogof Draenen must not be entered by this entrance and to do so is a criminal act. 

Without taking any sides what concerns me is that this statement is factually incorrect and I urge PDCMG to retract and correct it.

Entering via that entrance is NOT a criminal act. It is on open access land, trespass is not a criminal act and does not apply anyway.

Online David Rose

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2018, 03:30:28 pm »
According to CADW's website, "Stop notices" are an order to stop works for up to 28 days if CADW considers that the works breach the Historic Monuments legislation, as amended. No work is presently being carried out at Twll Du, and I fail to see how entering the cave would constitute "works" as defined by the legislation.  Therefore it does on the face of it appear that the prosecution threat is an empty one, and the statement misleading. It would be nice if someone from PDCMG would comment here to clarify the position.

Offline martinr

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Re: Update on Twll Du
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2018, 03:34:24 pm »
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One of those activities is for the caving community to be informed that Ogof Draenen must not be entered by this entrance and to do so is a criminal act. 

Without taking any sides what concerns me is that this statement is factually incorrect and I urge PDCMG to retract and correct it.

Entering via that entrance is NOT a criminal act. It is on open access land, trespass is not a criminal act and does not apply anyway.

Thanks for sorting that. Have you told CADW? Have they withdrawn the Stop Notice? ( "Stop notices" are an order to stop works if CADW considers that the works breach the Historic Monuments legislation)