Update: Legal action over Drws Cefn entrance draws closer

ogof_draenen_Paul Fairman
Photo courtesy of Paul Fairman

We brought you news last year about the threat of legal action from cavers Stuart France and Nigel Rogers and on the responses from both Natural Resources Wales and Drws Cefn landowner Pwlldu Conservation Limited.

We understand in the latest development in this long running saga Stuart France has now issued a pre-action letter via his solicitors to Natural Resources Wales advising of a proposed application to apply for Judicial Review in respect of their claim to rights of access to the Ogof Draenen cave system, despite fears this could result in loss of all access to Ogof Draenen.

In the meantime DEFRA have recently again repeated their position that “open access rights under that Act do not include any rights to use cave systems beneath or within the mapped land” and that all opinions such as the one given by Dinah Rose QC remain just that until the matter is considered and ruled upon by the courts. They have also commented that the other option is to resolve the position by a change in the legislation but they have confirmed that the Government has no plans to make any changes to the Act.

In his report last month to the BCA Council Tim Allen, the BCA CRoW Liaison Officer, considered the Drws Cefn situation and stated “In my view a decision has yet to be made which can be challenged by Judicial Review” –  a view obviously not shared by the Cambrian Caving Council’s Access Officer – Stuart France. It’s difficult to decide whether the report suggests the BCA support this legal action, or are opposed to it.

We have not so far received a response to our requests for comment from the BCA.