On 4 August 2016, Pen Park Hole was notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England, and cavers and local residents held a celebratory party, as the notification came about after a joint campaign to give the cave added legal protection in the event of nearby development proposals proceeding. The period in which objections to the notification could be lodge has now elapsed and Natural England have now confirmed the notification without any modifications.
Chris Westcott, Natural England’s local conservation adviser says, “Pen Park Hole is incredibly unique – both for its geology and ecology. Now the people of Bristol know more about this special national treasure which lies right under their feet. Its designation as a SSSI will mean that this spectacular, ancient cave will be protected for generations to come.”
On the original press day, journalist Laura Rawlings visited the cave and recounted her adventures on BBC local radio. She was so enthusiastic about her visit that colleagues on the regional BBC show Inside Out West picked up the story, and the result of their visit will be broadcast tomorrow at 7.30pm on BBC Inside Out West. We believe for those outside the South West region, this can be picked up on iPlayer after broadcast.
The filming was great fun. Laura and her colleagues director Kath Farnaby and cameraman Jez Toogood all enjoyed themselves and, much to our amazement, we managed to manoeuvre the larger of the two cameras all the way to the head of the pitch without a problem. Four hours of filming will result in about eight minutes of TV time and, as usual, those of who did pieces to camera are nervously awaiting the results.
BBC Inside Out West director Kath Farnaby says, “It was a huge privilege to be invited to explore this incredible natural wonder right on (under) our doorstep. The dark, damp and tight spaces made filming a challenge but with four cameras, numerous lights and mics plus expert help from the cavers and Natural England we emerged with some amazing pictures and moments of humour and drama”
Tune in tomorrow at 7.30pm to see how we did, or take a look on iPlayer afterwards!
And next month, The One Show are filming there with us as well. We’ll bring you news on that broadcast later in the year.
Many thanks to Chris Westcott from Natural England, UBSS cavers Andrew Atkinson, Clive Owen, Tony Boycott and Graham Mullan, and Jenny Walmsley and James Young from the BBC for all their help on the day.
Correspondent: Linda Wilson