Conservation & Access - News

Caving Code

Our new Caving Code is now available for download.

15 June 2016

Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines

The new Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines is now available for download.

Damian Weare (BCA Secretary) 25 May 2016

Thistle Cave - Rockfall

We have received a report of a rockfall on Thursday 12 November 2015 in Thistle Cave. It is apparently “just downstream of the entrance”. Take care!

Damian Weare (BCA Secretary) 16 November 2015

News on CRoW & Caving

On 8 September BCA’s Chairman, Andy Eavis, had an initial exploratory meeting with representatives from DEFRA and Natural England. This was informal in nature with plenty of common ground in evidence and all parties expressing a willingness to meet again in the future. There was also a general request that all communication with the Bodies be channeled through BCA. It is clear that BCA now needs to develop an official policy on CRoW and a route to achieving this will be addressed by the October meeting of BCA’s Council.

Damian Weare (BCA Secretary), 17 September 2014

Note from BCA Secretary following C&A Meeting on CRoW:

Thank you to all who took the time to contribute, either in person or by written submission, to today’s Conservation & Access Committee meeting.

BCA Executive will now be seeking a meeting with Natural England to ask it to consider its advice on the CRoW Act and its application to caving. It is hoped that this will take place in the coming weeks. There was also an extremely useful discussion about the best ways to conserve our caves and following on from this Andrew Hinde, BCA’s Conservation and Access Officer, will now lead on a review of all BCA’s current conservation documentation. The Committee will also move forward with a number of new conservation initiatives. Further details will be published in the draft Minutes which will be available as soon as possible (but not realistically for at least a couple of weeks).

On behalf of BCA, I would like to thank everyone at today's meeting for their extremely constructive approach.

Damian Weare (BCA Secretary) 16/08/14

Access under CRoW

There is currently some debate among cavers about whether or not CRoW does (or indeed should) apply to caving. There are several opinions related to this on the Descent website, including one supported by David Judson, BCA's Legal & Insurance Officer. However these are entirely personal views. Indeed at the request of the 2014 AGM, BCA's Conservation & Access Committee will be considering the whole issue at its forthcoming meeting and until then, BCA does not have a view.

BCA Secretary August 2014

Access & Professional Caving

It is enshrined in BCA’s Constitution (Section 4.6) that:

[…] the owners and tenants of property containing caves have the right to grant or withhold 
access. Where caving bodies have control of access delegated to them by the owners, such 
access should be obtained and granted as freely as possible for all responsible cavers, 
within the terms of those agreements. When obliged to make new agreements, the appropriate 
body should endeavour to ensure that this freedom is maintained or improved.

So when we are negotiating access, we should try to secure access as widely as possible, but at the end of the day the landowner and tenants will have the ultimate say.

Currently when it comes to access to our caves, professional cavers seem to suffer disproportionately. This is now starting to have an impact on BCA’s Award Schemes.

BCA believes that on occasions landowners have opted for a blanket ban on all professional caving, when in fact with careful negotiation it may be possible to secure at least some limited professional access. There is, after all, a huge difference between multiple visits per day by novice groups and an occasional one-on-one assessment of the Cave Instructor Certificate.

Part of the difficulty with professional caving is that - understandably - even cavers find the different types of professional caving hard to fathom. It stands to reason, therefore, that without some guidance landowners are also going to be confused. Given this it is no surprise that they may automatically opt for the default “no professional caving”.

For this reason BCA is seeking to support anyone negotiating access to secure the greatest freedom possible for all. In terms of professional caving, realistically even a few concessions could really benefit BCA’s Award Schemes.

For further guidance or support in negotiating access, in the first instance contact should be made with the appropriate Regional Access Officer or, if they are not available, the BCA’s Conservation & Access Officer. Queries relating specifically to professional caving are best addressed to BCA’s Training Officer.

Damian Weare (BCA Secretary) February 2014

Access to Casterton Fell

Public Rights of Way Used for Access to Caves

An Advice Note has been published jointly by the Conservation & Access and Legal & Insurance Committees on the Public Rights of Way Used for Access to Caves.