© Chelsea Spelaeological Society - updated June 2017
OURBUSINESS.COM Home About Activities Join Cottage Publications News Gallery Contact Forum Facebook

NEWS

PDCMG to block Drws

Cefn with surface grille

The summer general meeting set for 11th June was cancelled the day before by email.  This late decision did not prevent our club rep Chris Seal from driving to the venue at Govilon village hall to meet the caretaker who was unlocking the building for nothing. Since then, the PDCMG secretary has sent around another email to its members to explain the lack of progress with their project to close the Drws Cefn entrance to cavers. This natural feature was discovered in the 1990s and connected with the main cave system in 2009.  The gate shown in the photo above was gifted and fitted as a compromise to address concerns over public safety and cave conservation whilst providing access to cavers. The PDCMG changed the padlock some months later to prevent further caver access.  The whole gate then vanished in July 2010.  So the Drws Cefn entrance, which is on CROW Access Land and on Urban Common which provides similar ‘air and exercise’ rights, has now been open to all-comers for seven years without untoward incidents arising. Following a professionally-led bat research project, PDCMG and the landowner applied to NRW in July 2015 for a bat ‘conservation’ licence to block the Drws Cwfn internally with a steel re-inforced concrete wall that had been designed in July 2010 straight after the gate’s disappearance.  NRW declined to process this licence stating that it was being ‘withdrawn’ because bat conservation risks did not arise from the presence of cavers here.  But it was NRW that encouraged PDCMG to apply for this kind of bat licence in the first place, and then quickly got cold feet when Freedom of Information Act requests began arriving and a court case began its preparative steps.
Since late 2015 the PDCMG have been discussing a ‘development’ class licence with NRW , but this kind of licence turns on whether blocking the cave had Imperative Reasons of Overwhelming Public Interest (the IROPI test).  A scheme to prevent a tiny number of cavers annually from entering the largest cave system in Wales, which happens to be on CROW Access Land etc, can hardly be described as in the public interest.  NRW rightly fears that any legal decision it makes may result in a Judicial Review.  But a surface grille in the open air may need not require a bat licence.  Thus NRW can avoid the risk of getting a court case by avoiding making any legal decision.

Welsh Government

public consultation on

new access legislation

In the same week that PDCMG set out its latest plan to obstruct access, the Welsh Government has announced their plans to legislate for better public access generally for recreational visitors to the countryside. The details can be downloaded from here.

Chapter Four, on Access to the Outdoors, is

the part most relevant to cavers.  The WG

received 5000 responses from the cycling

community in its last round of consultations

and this had a big impact even though many

of them used a downloaded template letter.

It will help this time around if caving clubs

and cavers write to their Assembly Member

about getting more legislative support for

caving, and also make a written response to

the consultation via the WG website link

above.  Those living in England can point

out the economic contribution to sustainable

tourism and the significance of Welsh caves.

The AMs are those who will vote on all this.

You can ask that the new laws for Wales

should refer to ‘recreation’ rather than ‘open-

air recreation’ and to make it clear that ‘land’

includes the caves beneath its surface, and

to avoid explicit terms like “on foot” which do

not suit rock climbing, caving, swimming,

skiing, sledging, sitting down for a picnic etc. 

Quangos like NRW can then no longer play

word games to prevent some outdoor sports

benefitting from general rights that broadly-

drafted laws are clearly intended to confer.

PUBLICATIONS LINKS

Ogof Draenen’s Origins

The Farrant and Simms geological research paper on the speleogenesis of the Ogof Draenen cave system, the largest cave in Wales is here.

Ogof Gofan Project

‘Sanctuary’ magazine showcases MOD’s conservation projects once a year in an impressive 100-page all-colour glossy publication at gov.uk.  Read just the bit about the caver access scheme here.

Cave Telephones

As used by UK cave rescue teams.  How they work, circuit diagrams and firmware. The photo shows a batch of underground handsets in production.

Get it published

Underground themes like caving of course.  Your editor and webmaster can create a link here to showcase your efforts and feature your news stories and photos.
CHELSEA SPELÆOLOGICAL SOCIETY Caving in Wales, the South of England, and beyond

Clydach Gorge Cave Closures

Cavers are reminded that Ogof Pont Gam and Ogof Nant Rhin will shortly be closed

until June 2017 while rock is removed to create the new A465 split-level east-bound

lanes.  Ogof Capel are expected to close later in the autumn onwards for the

construction of the split-level lanes going past Gilwern.  Ogof Capel has also been

given a new padlock in April, due to metal corrosion, and all the existing keys should

still work.  Caves on the east side of the Clydach Gorge like Shakespeare’s Cave and

Ogof Clogwyn are not affected by the dual carriageway road works provided these

caves are accessed from the minor roads serving the Gilwern Hill side of the valley.

For more photos of smartly dressed cavers in clean new everything, visit ogof.org.uk

Read Article Read Article Read Article News