The landowners who own access to the UK’s second longest cave, Ogof Draenan, have made it clear that they won’t be bullied by threats of legal action made by cavers Stuart France and Nigel Rogers
In a post on UK Caving yesterday the landowners who between them own the land on which the entrances to Drws Cefn and Ogof Draenen are situated have given their response to the letter threatening legal action over access to Drws Cefn. This follows the response from Natural Resources Wales we reported on earlier in the week.
The statement was apparently agreed between Peter Jones, one of the two landowners concerned and David Rose, who is a prominent supporter of Countryside Rights of Way. The key passage states:
“Our understanding is that caves are not covered by the CROW Act, and that is a view shared by the NFU and NRW. Getting a solicitor’s letter is not the way forward, and if it was intended, does not frighten us. The main entrance is on our land, and if the group that wants to open Drws Cefn does not abide by the wishes of the PDCMG, and as we have stated to both the CCC and BCA previously we have no issue in closing the main and other entrances to Ogof Draenen, with the result that the wider caving community will lose out.”
The statement clearly shows that threatening landowners with legal action using CRoW has predictable results, it demonstrates landowners will support each other, and that any action could lead to loss of access beyond the immediate entrance concerned. It shows that they will fight any such action. It also suggests the National Farmers Union are aware of the CRoW issue, and probably prepared to assist landowners through their legal services team.
The statement continues that the landowners are happy for PDCMG to continue as their interface with the caving community and concludes:
“It was also opened, using explosives, without our knowledge nor permission, and we see it as equivalent as someone going into your back garden and doing the same.”
It’s easy to see why a landowner may be upset at being threatened with legal action under these circumstances.
You can read David Rose’s post containing the full statement together with his explanation of how it was agreed a few posts later here.
In a separate development the draft minutes from the recent Pwll Ddu Cave Management Group (PDCMG) meeting are also now online and also rebuff the France/Rogers letter, with a motion passed to support the landowner, and thank NRW:
“The PDCMG believe that this letter is unfortunate. PDCMG repeat that we respect the landowner’s rights in law. We thank the landowner for their efforts over many years”. Motion passed 7-1 with 4 abstentions. It was also noted that no PDCMG clubs were involved with the letter to NRW. It was also requested that thanks to NRW be minuted.”
The Drws Cefn story on Darkness Below so far: