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Author Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Morlock

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 04/11/2009 18:36:41
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Slightly off topic but how is this notice interpreted by the local police, no parking, parking being "A Use" of the land?

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Ty Gwyn

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 04/11/2009 19:35:47
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Its regarding Off Roading on SSSI land. IP: 78.144.24.65
Morlock

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 04/11/2009 19:40:36
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Ty Gwyn wrote:

Its regarding Off Roading on SSSI land.


Yes, I'd gathered that Smile
What I was trying to get at was if there were any jobsworths about who might be over zealous in their interpretation of the word "Use".

What would be the reaction if I parked a campervan overnight?
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Ty Gwyn

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 04/11/2009 19:49:37
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Park in a lay-by,and you`ll be safe enough,
On the site,you run the risk of a fine.
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Morlock

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 04/11/2009 21:11:41
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Ta. Smile IP: 86.31.102.41
Graigfawr

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 04/11/2009 23:32:20
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Might be able to add some small clarification to aspects raised on this thread.

Pollution - the impacts on the River Ystwyth are zinc and acidity, followed by lead, with cadmium trailing. The mine is one of three largest polluters in the county. Statutory bodies have been looking at alleviation schemes for over 25 years (originally Welsh Water, later the National Rivers Authority, now the Environment Agency). There was a major consultancy a couple of years ago that included through liaison with stakeholders (including heritage bodies such as Welsh Mines Society and Welsh Mines Preservation Trust, local residents), though no concrete recommendations beyond it becoming clear that more detailed studies were required by the EA to better quantify the major pollution inputs. [A promising sign IMHO - better slow and cautious than rush in the JCBs]. Throughout all this, there appears never to have been a suggesrtion that the landowners could be clobbered with all/part of the costs of remediation - until the late 1980s or early 1990s the mining rights were owned by Cwmystwyth Mines Ltd (or a company of similar name), after it was dissolved, the site reverted to the Crown Estate. Whilst CMLtd had minimal assets and its handful of shareholders (two or three individuals only, I believe) probably had no more assets than their homes and cars, the CA was making a profit of around £90m p.a. a couple of years ago. Whether the lack of any apparent suggestion that the owners should pay for the pollution might reflect pragmatism that the shareholders of CMLtd possessed insufficent assets to be worth pursuing, and might possibly reflect perceptions of Crown immunity, I always gained the impression that the pollution was deemed to be deeply historic and that current owners would not be pursued. Cerainly the (admittedly modest) alleviation works undertaken at other mines in the county over the last 30 years have all been at public expense, I believe. So Roy iss probably correct in his assumption that neither he, nor his intended trust will be pursued over pollution (unless, presumably, he or the trust carried out works that changed the existing pollution situation) or the costs of alleviation. After all, a full blown alleviation project would cost a couple of orders of magnitude of the value of Roy's probable assets, or the likely assets of a group of trustees.

Access agreement or outright sale - the WMPT reported that in an exploratory meeting with CA a couple of years ago, that they were offered the site for a nominal sum. The WMPT considered the offer but, I am told, concluded that their constitution did not empower the existing trust to own a mine, and felt that they were already fully committed to preservation projects at a wide range of sites, and were not well placed to take on a major site such as this. Roy then reported at a meeting of the Ceredigion Mines Forum (stakeholder consultation group founded by the county council's 'Spirit of the Miners' project about four years ago, and now continued by the council's successor project 'Plwm') that, as a result of WMPT not feeling able to proceed, he was opening discussions with CA with a proposal that he would acquire the site and promptly transfer it to a trust, to be newly created, to safeguard the site, administer access, etc. Updates thereafter are on this thread, directly from Roy.

Will CA sell the site / why is everything so slow - crystal ball land; I know nothing more than the average contributor to this thread, I'm afraid, so what follows is no more than speculation (aplogies in advance). The matter is entirely in the hands of their agents. Whether they have an endless stream of more pressing matters, or whether they have doubts of some sort over Roy's offer, who knows. However, if they have not dismissed the offer, and of they are still talking, no matter how slowly, it must be a positive sign. Roy has a business background (read his website) so he is coming into this with his eyes open and can speak business language to the CA's agents. With the CA having made it clear that they will consider a sale of the site, but will not discuss an access agreement, Roy's offer is the best hope of the mining community for access, and indeed for conservation of the surface remains, as no other body, nor the current owners, are showing any meaningful interest in conservation of the deteriotating structures. The only potential obstacle I can detect is the possiblity that the CA's agents might prefer to sell the site direct to a trust rather than to an individual, whereas Roy stated (a year or more ago, admittedly - things may have changed since) to the Ceredigion Mines Forum that he is not prepared to go to the expense of registering a trsut until a sale is definite. It also occurs to me that there might possibly be some potential difficulty in finding trustees unless some of the potential liabilities of the site are mitigated. As a trustee of a charitable body (nothing to do with mining), I very carefully considered what I was potentially letting myself in for, as - in some circumstances - trsutees can find themselves laible for all their assets thanks to the litigatious nature of modern society and some perturbing case precedents. In the case of this site, an exchange of letters with the EA could provide suitable reassurance concerning the possibility of the proposed trust being pursused over pollution or its alleviation. However, with the greater part of the site being open-access under CRoW, and the afore-mentioned litigatious nature of modern society and some perturbing case precedents, there are some worrying potential liabilities for claims due to injuries by people wandering the site surface. However, the site comes with a grazing tenancy that brings in a modest but useful revenue each year so fensing and signage could feasibly be funded from that source and a suitably constituted trust would probably be able to tap into various grants to enhance access to the historic environment (on surface at any rate) that could probbaly be legitimately be partly applied to the mitigation of the risks inherant in the surface of the site. So, I can't see any over-riding obstacles and am cautiously optomistic that Roy's long and patient discussions may prove fruitful. Hats off to Mr.Fellowes for his stalwart efforts.

Couple points of interest - the greater part of the site is a scheduled ancient monument, the only notable exceptions being the dumps south of the road (which have been much reworked by the river; though the crusher house south of the road IS part of the scheduled monument) and western extremities of the site, which is mostly natural hillside. I believe that parts of the site may be a SSSI due to lichens and heavy metal -tolerant flora. I believe that portions of the site are a RIGS (Regionally Important Geological Site).

Hope these notes help understanding of the background and aspects of the 'wading through treacle' situation that Roy finds himself in his discusions with the CA's agent. There's a final caveat of course - this is the understanding of an individual not directly involved in the process, gleaned from various public statements and is probably incomplete, and possibly wrong in places. I have tried to flag up what is outright speculation on my part. Apologies, Roy if I've got anything wrong - I thought that an attempt at a fuller background might be of interest and would help engender patience in bystanders as your discussions drag on.

Thanks for your patience everyone.
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derrickman

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 05/11/2009 00:16:40
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interesting stuff.

I hadn't really considered the aspect of pursuing the trust for the costs of pollution alleviation, but the point is well made.

However there is another problem which the previous post doesn't really deal with.

Wardell Armstrong are a well-known mining consultant with a reputation to uphold, and PI to pay for. They are, in effect, being asked to sanction or otherwise facilitate the transfer of an ancient mine to a body unknown to them, who appear to have few - if any - resources and no identifiable purpose other than small-scale recreational access.

If WA felt that increased activity at the mine would possibly produce an increase in an existing problem, by disturbing sediments or whatever it might be, they would be duty-bound to report this and act accordingly.

the EA, in turn, might justifiably feel that one effect of this, would be to generate pollution mitigation works which would, ultimately, end up on their budget. Again, their terms of reference oblige them to recognise this in their planning

hence, both EA and Wardell Armstrong have quite legitimate reasons to delay and drag their feet - because any possible decisioncould be, from their point of view, counter-productive in some way


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Jimbo

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 05/11/2009 00:20:11
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Thanks for the interesting background information on this site & Roy's efforts Graigfawr & welcome to the forum Thumbs Up IP: 92.28.130.164
Graigfawr

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 05/11/2009 02:29:28
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Interesting points Derrickman. Thank you.

WA had, reportedly offered the site to WMPT for a nominal sum. Its a small trust with few resources. However, it has been in existence for over a decade and has a good track record of partnership with central government funded bodies (notably Cadw), local authorities, etc. Agree WA might draw a contrast between WMPT and a trust yet to be brought into existence.

Intrigued at your implication that WA might be somehow liable if a sale resulted in a new owner increasing pollution. Hadn't considered that. Is the reach of litigation really that long these days? Food for thought indeed.

EA is not directly part of the potential sale as far as I can discern. They have hitherto reacted positively to information on underground hydrology of the site contributed by mine explorers. EA have attended meetings of the Ceredigion Mines Forum where mine explorers have presented summaries of explorations and findings and the EA have never suggested that underground exploration (including Roy's account of his digging in, and partial drainage of Talybont Deep Adit) was seen by the EA as prejudicual to pollution. Mere passage of mine explorers through the workings would, fortunately, almost certainly not alter existing pollution outputs, as they emmanate mainly from two adits that are inaccessible underground and from tip wash-off and leachate. One of these two adits is only a drainage crosscut to a run-in shaft, with the outflow welling up the shaft infill from workings below the level of standing water. As for the other adit, whilst its innermost ends were accessible (prior to grilling of adit portals a few years ago), its portal and extensive lengths inwards are extensively collapsed. Thus, unless reopening of workings occurred on a virtually commercial scale, the typical activities of mine explorers and industrial archaeologists would be most unlikely to impact on pollution. So, EA seemingly not negative about mine exploration in general, and no grounds for concern by EA on a renewal of access to this specific site. With EA not involved, as far as can be discerned, in the decision making process whether CE should or should not sell, the matter seems to rest entirely with WA and their clients, CE.

You make a very good point about how WA perceive the proposed trust influencing how WA do - or do -not -progress discussions. I'm sure Roy is well aware of this. Presumably the solution is to have a sound draft constitution of the trust to hand, to demsonstrate the breadth of its proposed concerns: conservation including drop down of public funding through partnerships with responsible local and national bodies, especially governmental ones; wide involvement of stakeholders including local authorities, local communities and specialist groups; successful models from elsewhere in the UK; also, confidence-inspiring trustees-in-waiting with proven track records in analgeous projects. Underground access would be but one strand of the matter, I would imagine.

For discussions to reportedly (my only source in recent moths has been Roy's informative postings) still be 'live', then at least some of these aspirations must have been successfully communicated. The professional insight you have contributed on this thread can only be useful, I imagine, to Roy's discussions; you have certainly raised some very pertinent points that I had not remotely considered.

I await updates in due course with interest. It could be a model for conservation and access eleswhere of other sites on CE lands: the pioneering site is always the most problematic and prolonged.
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derrickman

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 05/11/2009 08:33:59
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interesting detail about the details of the layout and run-off. It's much easier to envisage it if you have some information.

I shouldn't think EA are interested in pursuing anyone over pollution which is, as you say, deeply historic. However they do on occasion, tend to take the understandable view that just because something exists, that's no reason to make it worse. They could impose constraints on further activities, such as the filter beds described in the thread about Rheidol. These may not represent huge sums of money as these things go, but would be unachievable for a small trust with few resources.




Wardell Armstrong are the Crown Estate's Agents and as such, essentially perform the role of specialist advisers with a particular brief in respect of management and where possible, mitigation of perceived risks and liabilities. If they were felt to have contributed to the mine passing into unsuitable hands, that could certainly be a problem for them in the longer term.

Again, they probably wouldn't find themselves directly liable for pollution costs, or for that matter damages resulting from a claim by a third party who had ( say ) fallen down a shaft while walking his dog, or worse still, some 'urbex chav' ( the kind of people who climb the S Crofty headframe and then post it on 28DL, say ) who had managed to disturb part of the long-since life-expired timberwork and come to some unlooked-for end; but they would have no possible benefit from being involved in such an action and would be in the undesirable position of being a large undertaking with substantial PI and therefore, one of the few entities complying with that basic precept of litigation - that of only suing people who actually have some money.

it does also rather beg the question of why the offer of the mine for a nominal sum was declined by a body ( WMPT ) who would seem to be the logical candidates?
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Graigfawr

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 05/11/2009 21:42:56
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More food for thought - thank you; yet more subtle aspects that I had not previously considered.

I recall WMPT representatives reporting that they declined to the offer to purchase the site because (i) they felt mine ownership lay outside their constitution and remit, (ii) that they were pretty fully committed on other projects and that it was somewhat dauntingly site in terms of size and complexity, (iii) the underlying driver to potential purchase was underground access whereas only a proportion of their membership were interested in underground exploration, the majority being primarily committed to conservation of surface structures, and (iv) their raison d'etre was conservation and that could be better pursued without ownership of sites, instead acting as a channel for securing funding from various, mainly public, sources - a role in which they have achieved a great deal. My recollection is that after a fairly lengthy period of waiting, in which a new, dedicated trust did not materialise, Roy began discussions and virtually from the outset let all potentially interested parties (including the mine exploration community) know what he was doing and what he hoped to achieve, and has provided periodic updates thereafter.
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royfellows

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 17/12/2010 12:05:48
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The current situation on this matter is that I am now dealing directly with a representative of the Crown Estate, rather than dealing through their mineral agents. The matter has become protracted due to personal illness this year and also the fact that the Crown Estate moved their London office a few years ago.
I shall keep everyone up to speed on developments as they occur.

Thank you all for your patience on this matter.


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''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change
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royfellows

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Cwmystwyth: Underground access
Posted: 26/09/2011 11:28:47
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It is with some glee that I am able to advise that the Crown Estate have recently completed a program of safety and consolidation work on the surface buildings.

Neville Place has had a dangerous chimney removed and some consolidation, the old barracks has had work done that prevents debris spilling out onto the road, also Cwrt and the buildings adjacent to the mill site have also received attention. All the buildings have been fenced off and a certain amount of consolidation work carried out, this has even gone as far as replacement of lintels in some cases.

The above work not only stabilises the buildings to a degree, but addresses my major concerns regarding potential liability should the transfer of the land to a Trust that I form go ahead.
The Crown Estate is to be commended and applauded for this, which goes far beyond anything I could have reasonably expected.


--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change
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