So far so good 🙂 After playing telephone tag with the DNPA since Tuesday I finally managed to speak to them today – I had actually just descended from High Willhays!
My theory of what happened (as described above) was exactly right. There was NO intended change in policy and NO conspiracy (as had been suggested). As far as they are concerned our original land agreement is still intact. What actually happened is that nearly a year ago they came up with new guidelines for geocaching which they published in May 2011. They were a combination of the normal geocaching guidelines and the letterboxing guidelines. But nobody in the geocaching world noticed! More recently they withdrew their Letterboxing Guidelines which were in pdf format as they were unsuitable to be read by those who are visually impaired. As it happened our land agreement was linked to their pdf document, so it didn’t work. Somebody at Groundspeak jumped to the wrong conclusion that this meant that the land agreement no longer existed.
As regards SSSIs, it’s NO CHANGE. We can still place geocaches in SSSIs without specific permission for each cache. We have the same rights as letterboxers.
As I said above, so far so good – I have asked for this in writing (as I know nobody at Groundspeak will accept it otherwise) but at the moment I have received nothing. However, I firmly believe that I will receive this as the conversation I had was very positive with absolutely no negatives at all.
I will keep you informed.