Author Topic: CROW: new official Defra report supports BCA's call for greater access to caves  (Read 929 times)

Offline David Rose

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The government’s Review of national parks and AONBs led by Julian Glover has just been published:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review

As convenor of the BCA CROW campaign group, I met with Julian and his review team at the end of last year at Defra’s HQ in London and made the case as strongly as I could that the current official position on CROW access and caves (that access extends on CROW land only as far as the daylight) is perverse and wrong. I’m pleased to say the Review report appears to accept this. See page 21 for a super photo (by Mark Burkey?) of Jane Allen, out P&I officer, and then some very supportive comments on page 81. The full context (see the report) makes clear that Glover’s view is strongly sympathetic to us.

Best of all is proposal 18, on page 98. This says the government should consider expanding access rights, and mentions cavers specifically: “It feels wrong that many parts of our most beautiful places are off‐ limits to horse riders, water users, cavers, wild campers and so on. We hope that as part of the government’s commitment to connect more people with nature, it will look seriously at whether the levels of open access we have in our most special places are adequate.”

I think this is a very useful step forward, which will make it harder for Defra and Natural England to ignore the BCA’s representations that it is time to review the legal advice which has been used to deny cavers’ CROW access since the Act was passed. It will also make it easier to drum up further political support.

Offline Pegasus

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Brilliant, well done David and good to read some common sense in the report not only for cavers but for horse riders, canoeists and others too  ;D

Offline Ian Adams

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Absolutely brilliant David  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Offline BCA Secretary

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Outstanding work David!  :clap2:

Ensuring cavers are represented on a national level in this way is exactly what the BCA is here for... in this case, working to ensure caver access does not fall 'under the radar' of such high profile Government reviews. A hugely successful outcome, and one which I know reflects a considerable amount of work.

Offline PeteHall

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Great work David and everyone else involved!  :thumbsup:
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Offline caving_fox

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I'm actually somewhat concerned over this. I've not read the full report, nor even kept too much on track with the CROW discussions over the years, but I had thought that although caving wasn't explicitly mentioned in the CROW legislation, it wasn't specifically excluded either, and hence were operating in somewhat of a grey area.

The given quote "Best of all is proposal 18, on page 98. This says the government should consider expanding access rights, and mentions cavers specifically: “It feels wrong that many parts of our most beautiful places are off‐ limits to horse riders, water users, cavers, wild campers and so on. We hope that as part of the government’s commitment to connect more people with nature, it will look seriously at whether the levels of open access we have in our most special places are adequate.”" Lumps caving in with activities that were explicitly excluded, and so this would lead to our current, sort of covered by CROW status being downgraded to explicitly not-covered, until any new amendments are passed. ??
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Offline 2xw

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I think DEFRA and NE have always been clear that crow does not apply to cavers.

I'm really pleased with the report, and so are the people I work with in NE. It's pretty radical in many ways so we'll see what comes from it, but it's a great step in the right direction.

If the proposals are carried through it will affect caving in other more subtle (environmental) ways, which will be interesting to think about.

Offline Badlad

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I'm actually somewhat concerned over this....

Be not concerned.. or no more than normal.  The report is coming from the position of the Defra/NE view here not making it any clearer in legal terms of how CroW does or doesn't apply to caving.  The situation is still that Defra holds the view that it does not apply - or not beyond the limit of daylight anyway.  They admit that this is only their view, that it is not definitive and that only the courts can decide (and it is unlikely that anyone will get it to a court).  BCA, other organisations and a strong legal opinion believe the opposite, so we are still in the may or may not of limbo land. 

It is also worth noting that just as Glover lumps caving in with outdoor activities that are specifically excluded, there is a Natural England document with specifically includes caving with activities that are included.

Where this does help is that when and if any review of the CRoW Act or wider access to the countryside legislation happens, then the positive proposals in the Glover Review can be put forward to strengthen the caving argument.