IMPORTANT: Changes to SSSI Rules

Welcome to Dartmoor Geocaching Forums What’s New? IMPORTANT: Changes to SSSI Rules

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  • #929
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    It appears that our local reviewer has been instructed NOT to allow new caches in Dartmoor’s SSSIs unless the cache has had specific permission to be placed! This is a complete reversal of the previous rules which we shared with our letterboxing friends where caches were allowed and specific permission was not required.

    It appears that this change has come about because of an update to the DNPA’s web site which has removed the letterboxing guidelines which GAGB had incorporated into a land agreement for Dartmoor. The DNPA now recognises geocaching in it’s own right and has issued geocaching guidelines, which is good, but has failed to include the very important clause that says that specific permission for each individual cache is not necessary. Because there are national SSSI agreements with Groundspeak which state that specific permission IS required, we no longer have the exception to this rule we had before.

    This ruling is NOT retrospective, however, if you move or archive a cache within an SSSI you will NOT be allowed to replace it. Please therefore do NOT attempt to move any existing cache and please don’t archive any until this can be sorted out.

    I will be contacting the DNPA immediately on Monday to find out what can be done. It would be very useful if anybody who has any email contact with the reviewer or anybody else on his subject to copy me in and this will help to get a better picture of what is happening. This ruling is a real setback for geocaching on Dartmoor and I will do everything I can to get it sorted out.

    #931
    muddypuddles
    Participant

    As I understand from the reviewer and the DNP website, permission will be needed for every cache, not just those in SSSIs. This is major setback after it looked like a sensible arrangement had been made between the DNPA and GAGB. I look forward to hearing what the DNPA have to say when you speak to them.

    I can’t see that they will want to be bothered by potential cache setters contacting them about every single potential cache.

    #933
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    Matt, I don’t think you are correct about every cache – after all, haven’t you had several published in the park today? I am sure it’s the SSSI that is significant here.

    My own interpretation is that the DNPA didn’t understand the significance of the land agreement with GAGB. They thought they were helping with the guidelines but Groundspeak seem to have other ideas!

    #934
    dartymoor
    Participant

    Thanks for the post, I was puzzled at the disablement and re-enablement of nine maidens.

    I can only imagine it’s an oversight and I hope you can get hold of someone to persuade them to amend.

    Although, with sadness I see the cuts have meant many of the Parke staff are leaving, including Tony Halse (who I did my first day’s work with on the YTS!) and Rupert Lane (who ran the tree division I worked on for 18 months). Good people and a fear for the future of Dartmoor’s management with these cuts. Dark days.

    #935
    muddypuddles
    Participant

    I have had clarification from the reviewer, and the changes, according to Groundspeak, mean that the changes only apply to SSSIs. This is at odds with the DNPA website, whose guidelines state that the landowner’s permission will need to be sought to place a cache, which I take to mean every cache. This website goes on to say that the DNPA will need to be contacted if a placer has concerns about the proposed site if it is in an SSSI, which clearly doesn’t mean contact is mandatory for SSSIs. Groundspeak’s interpretation of these guidelines appears to be inconsistent and I think some clarification is needed.

    #936
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    Lots of confusion here I know, which I will attempt to clarify with the DNPA. Please copy me in on any relevant emails as that will help and I will feed back any information that I get on to this web site.

    The new DNPA guidelines were obviously put together as a combination of the standard Groundspeak rules and the existing letterboxing guidelines. To clarify muddypuddles point above about “all caches” or just “SSSI caches” the Groundspeak guidelines say “You assure us that you have the landowner’s and/or land manager’s permission before you hide any geocache, whether placed on private or public property.” This is nothing new and has just been incorporated into the DNPA guidelines. Both guidelines also say that all caches should be labelled as such and I have seen many recent caches that have no label at all saying they are geocaches.

    I would imagine that 80% of caches placed in the UK do NOT have landowners permission, but we were given dispensation from this rule with the previous GAGB land agreement.

    #937
    Ernie B
    Participant

    From your reviewer Lindinis aka Ernie B.
    Just as a clarification as to who need permission and for what.
    There are two types of permission: (1) Proof of permission and (2) General permission.

    (1) Proof of permission. As a reviewer, I need to see that permission has been granted for all caches placed within the SSSI area and / or within NT land. This is usually added in a reviewer note when you submit a new cache.

    (2) General permission. The geocaching guidelines state that you should get permission to place ALL caches. See section 1.1.2 in this link… http://support.groundspeak.com/index.php?pg=kb.printer.friendly&id=11#p304
    Reviewers don’t need to see this general permission.
    Most local councils, the Highways Commission etc have given general permission (as long as we are sensible, we can place caches on most footpaths, road verges, common land etc etc, without asking for permission). However, large areas of Dartmoor are owned privately. It is in your own interest that you check before placing a cache. It seems the DNPA have had complaints of caches placed on private land without asking for permission. (This might or might not had a bearing on the change in their guidelines). I don’t currently know how the DNPA feel about accepting caches after these changes.

    I’ll be here to help where I can, but reviewers do not and cannot negotiate landowner agreements.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 8 months ago by Ernie B.
    #939
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    Thanks Ernie for your clarification on this, as usual I know that as a cacher yourself you try to help us as much as possible and this is really appreciated.

    Interesting that you acknowledge that most folk don’t bother asking for permission and this backs up my guess of 80% who don’t.

    I understand that you are not able to negotiate land owner agreements and I will set about tackling this on Monday. Thanks again for your post and ongoing help, it is much appreciated.

    #940

    Tim Hampson (keehotee) was the cacher who was instrumental in setting up the Landowner Agreement between the DNPA and the GAGB. I have informed Tim of these new developements and asked him to contact you Dave.
    I think it’s important that the GAGB is kept in the loop, after all, they are the recognised caching association that will need to draw up a new agreement, so if you dont hear from Tim, perhaps try Richard Mollins (Dr Dick& Vic) who is the Treasurer of the GAGB and spends part of his year in the Westcountry, so has personal links.
    Since working on this agreement I happen to know that keehotee has moved away from Devon, so this may be an ideal oportunity for someone else to step into the breech and work within the GAGB representing the interests of cachers in Devon & Cornwall when it comes to complex issues such as Landowner Agreements? I can think of at least three suitable candidates (Dave, Matt & John [Westwoods2]) who would be perfect for the job!! As far as I’m aware, one doesn’t need any special qualifications or training to work on these Agreements, more a passion for representing the interests of cachers and caching in this beautiful place we call home 🙂
    I hope this turns out to be nothing more than a storm in a tea-cup, and that a sensible dialogue and clarification will lead to a subsequaint new agreement.
    Phil

    #941
    Tamerton Chocolates
    Participant

    By the time Matt has finished with the Dartmoor Mega challenge I don’t think there’ll be a lot of space left for any additional caches 😉

    #952
    clownpunchers
    Participant

    Hi,

    I’m a new geocacher (having only discovered it existed a month ago) and found this forum while looking for clarification on what kind of permission is needed to place a cache.

    I tried to place two today on the south moor, as I believed that on open moor land it was pretty much the same rules as placing letterboxes, in that you have to apply a little bit of common sense, i.e. not near anything remotely old or fragile or clearly on private land.

    I have contacted the regional National Trust office to see if i can gain permission for the two to be published, which is fair enough, but I don’t see why it’s any different to letterboxing! The sport is essentially letterboxing with a GPS!

    It requires a lot of research to find a suitable location for just one cache, far enough away from others in the area, and then it is quite complicated to find out who owns the land and what kind of monuments are in the area to keep away from etc. I can see it discouraging others from placing caches. I actually had another cache disabled as it was too near a premium members only cache (which I can’t see unless I zoom right out on the area as I am not a premium member).

    I’m not having a go at the reviewer or others at all as I understand why these rules exist, but it is rather complicated and there do seem to be a lot of rules! Any clarification would be appreciated 🙂

    #954
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    As promised I have been straight on to the DNPA today and now have the name and direct dial number of the person who is responsible for the “new” guidelines. He is in the office tomorrow and I will be contacting him then.

    Welcome clownpunchers to both geocaching and this web site, we are always pleased to have a new member. Obviously we are already trying to sort out the placement guidelines, so keep watching this space.

    A couple of other points you raise. I haven’t checked your profile, but I would suggest that you find two or three hundred caches before you place any. That way you will begin to understand what caches are good and what are not. In a rural environment most cachers would like to see fewer micros and nanos (unless they are something a bit different) so best to think about larger caches. Also everybody likes to see quality caches, and cache & dashes don’t often come under that category. I know I am generalising and there will be some who disagree, but generally these caches are best suited to urban and surburban areas where hides are often difficult. No such problems exist on Dartmoor.

    The other point you mention is that of Premium Member caches, and once again views differ. My personal view is that they are not necessary except in very special situations and out of my 105 caches I have placed not one is a Premium Member only cache. However,we do suffer a lot in this area and if you want to place caches your probably need to take out a Premium Membership.

    Before others moan, I know most of this is off topic. Perhaps I need to set up a new forum for new geocachers and their questions.

    #955
    muddypuddles
    Participant

    Thanks, Dave, for taking this on. I had an email today which has raised a couple of points that I think should be put to the DNPA when you speak to them:

    1. Finding out who actually owns a piece of land within the DNP is very difficult, and if this was a requirement for cache placement then it would be useful to build up a database of owners on your site to contact. If the DNP mean that they wish you to have their permission to place a cache, rather than that of the landowner, then this would be unnecessary.

    2. The second point is: does the nominated contact within the DNP really want to spend their time answering an endless stream of cache placement requests for individual caches? They may think that it’s a good idea in principle, but I think they probably have better uses for their time, and a blanket agreement, as before, might be in their best interests.

    Just something to consider.

    #956
    Westwoods 2
    Participant

    Whilst it is flattering to be mentioned in dispatches by none other than the Great Bogtrotter I do feel that there are people better qualified to take on this task!
    Many years ago in the days when Godfrey was chief letterboxer and checked most boxes himself I was involved in setting up guidelines and agreements with the DNPA and Letterboxers, but things were much simpler in those days with far fewer people involved and only within (by and large) the confines of Dartmoor and most letterboxers were local. From memory there was far more internal control exercised than with the Geocaching community and problems with sites were quickly sorted.
    Even so there were problems(lists of “Secret” boxes and the “Cut Hill Mafia” spring to mind )I’m sure the Urban Ranger will remember them!
    With geocaching as long as the guidelines are followed the reviewer will allow the cache without physically seeing the site, and I have certainly seen some placements that would not have existed as letterboxes (walls are a particular gripe for me).
    With this thought in mind it would be interesting to know the reasons for the change by DNPA-there has to be a reason!
    We don’t get out on the Moor as we used to but would be very sad to see problems raised for those,the majority, who use and love it. Good luck to those who are prepared to take it on but Muddypuddles Point 2 is very valid. Speaking personally I know I would rather be out caching than sitting in front of a screen!

    #958
    dartymoor
    Participant

    I’m also concerned with Point 2. If equests go to DNPA will they be ignored? Their staff cuts this year are drastic, losing many people who’ve served for decades. How will they find the time for what is, to them, probably not a big priority?

    And now, despite having been a letterboxer for a very long time, I’m resenting that letterboxes (physically identical) can be placed without these restrictions. This requirement does not change the likelyhood of a bad cache being placed at all, other than perhaps the request being ignored so it can’t be published.

    Perhaps GAGB can be called upon to negotiate or collate blanket agreements in their landowner database as well as here?

    (WW – Agree about walls – Grr! But letterboxing has as many badly placed boxes as geocaching; consider the “kiddy boxes” around certain honeybag tors. I’ve sat down on a rock at Saddle Tor and seen as many as five takeaway containers all clearly visible)

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 8 months ago by dartymoor.
    #960
    clownpunchers
    Participant

    Despite my post being so general, I was only meaning to reply to this specific topic! Thanks for trying to confirm the rules.

    #974
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    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.

    #977

    Dave many thanks for driving this problem forward to what looks like will be a nice solution.

    #979
    dartymoor
    Participant

    Sounds like good news, and I hope they pony up the written word too.

    #1017
    clownpunchers
    Participant

    So is the land agreement between land owners and the DNPA still in place then? From reading this thread it seems so, but I still can’t get my caches published as apparently the agreement was “withdrawn earlier this year”! So frustrating!

    #1018
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    I have to apologise, I seem to have taken my eye off the ball on this problem. I was promised this in writing last week when I was stood on top of Stenga Tor, however I have not received this and unfortunately have not had time to chase it up (I am supposed to be running a hotel on Dartmoor and the Easter weekend is nearly here :))

    However, I will try to get hold of my contact again tomorrow and see what the holdup is. Unfortunately I failed to get an email address from him, which would have helped.

    #1019
    clownpunchers
    Participant

    No need to apologise, it’s not like i’ve done anything myself! Thanks for looking to clarify it.

    #1020
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    Not such positive news!

    I had to chase my contact for his written confirmation of our telephone conversation last week and when I did finally get a reply from him he didn’t sound as positive as he did last week. It seems that he needs to discuss some of this with his colleagues but he did think that we would be able to get it sorted ok. However, he is off on holiday for a week now, so I’m afraid nothing further will happen until he returns, and even then it may not be as quick and easy as I had been led to believe. We will just have to be patient for the time being.

    #1030
    StationMaster
    Participant

    I have just be refused to place a cache after having permission by landowner. I had a great mystery cache set in a place where no-one could cause damage unless they took a digger down. Yes it was on a SSSI but someone else got a cache next to a wall in the same area. Think I will give Dartmoor a miss for placeing caches, I just go and find them.

    #1035
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    To answer Station Master’s query above. He has supplied me with the coordinates for the proposed cache and it is NOT in an SSSI but in a Scheduled Monument! All Scheduled Monuments are shown on the MAGIC map (http://benchmarks.org.uk/magicmapit.php?) and this map is ALWAYS used when a reviewer checks a cache location. It is highly unlikely that they will allow a cache on or in a Scheduled Monument, whether or not you have landowner’s permission.

    #1036
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    I have some very good news re my efforts to sort out the placement of caches within SSSIs on Dartmoor. I have now had a long email from the head of recreation at the DNPA and also a long telephone conversation, both of which were very positive. There are still some issues to be addressed but he has confirmed that he wants a level playing field for us and our letterboxing friends. He states “I am happy to amend our current guidance regarding landowner permissions to reflect that given to letterboxers.” This was specifically in relation to caches being placed in SSSIs. He has told me today that he will change the geocaching guidelines to reflect this. If these changes take place we will be back to where we were last year, but instead of us following the letterboxing guidelines, we will have our own set of guidelines, which will basically be the same as the letterboxers.

    I will keep you all informed as to how this progresses, but I get the impression that it will happen sooner rather than later.

    #1038
    dartymoor
    Participant

    Sounds good. 🙂

    #1039

    Dave thanks for all your hard work with this one.

    #1040
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    I am please to say that things have moved even quicker than I had hoped. I have now received a draft set of new Geocaching Guidelines which I am perfectly happy with and which I believe meet our requirements and which give us permission to place caches on public access land within the DNP whether or not it is designated as an SSSI. This brings us into line with letterboxing. I have sent these draft guidelines to our reviewer and if he is happy I will publish them here and send them to GAGB. All you will need to do is to say that your caches meet the geocaching Guidelines and there should be no other hurdles to jump!

    #1041
    red.roaming
    Participant

    I am making world-shattering history [well I think so!] in that this is my first post on one of these forum sites, but I want to add my grateful thanks to Dartmoor Dave for making the time to pursue and hopefully obtain easy-to-follow siting rules for geocaches on Dartmoor. The complications of needing landowner/farmer permission – or not – have been bewildering to me, and hence my reluctance to site any geocaches for others to seek [especially considering the number I have found which is rather embarrassing].
    Hopefully with these new rules I will venture to site some caches – especially as otherwise I will not be able to log the Dartmoor Mega and Minor Challenges as I have some “empty” squares in order to qualify! I can’t continue to hope that someone else will site caches in these squares, and I also expect that I am not the only one who has these or other “empty” squares – so fingers crossed!

    #1042
    muddypuddles
    Participant

    Hats off to Dave for sorting this problem out. For those of us that love caching on the moor this a great result. Many thanks indeed!

    #1043
    clownpunchers
    Participant

    Well done Dave, great effort, great result! Much appreciated.

    #1044
    Westwoods 2
    Participant

    Well done Dave,it would have been a great shame to see Dartmoor disappear off the Geocaching map even if WE don’t get there very often these days. Going to Fur Tor on New Year’s Day seems another life! Maybe one last foray onto Cut Hill in the better weather!!!

    #1056
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    I am sorry that it has suddenly gone very quiet on this topic, but I have heard nothing back from our reviewer yet – maybe he is on holiday, because I have noticed that Chris (Graculus) has published the most recent caches.

    Anyway, my thanks for the posts above, thanking me, I just hope they haven’t been a bit too premature!

    #1067
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    “No news” is not necessarily “good news!”

    After nearly 2 weeks I got a reply from Ernie saying that he had been ill and won’t be reviewing for some time to come. I then found out that he has actually been in hospital. So, if you read this Ernie, I would like to wish you a speedy recovery on behalf of all the Dartmoor geocachers.

    As a result of this I have had to redirect everything to Chris (graculus) who will be taking over the reviewing for this area. However, so far I have not been able to get him to accept the new geocaching guidelines that I have agreed with the DNPA, but obviously I will continue to pursue this. It is frustrating that I have been able to agree these guidelines with the authority responsible for the use of the public areas within the DNP, an authority which is really getting behind and in favour of both letterboxing and geocaching, but that it is still difficult to get the geocaching reviewers to accept them. I will keep trying.

    #1068
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    Latest News – I have just received an email from Chris (graculus) suggesting a single sentence to be added as a covering statement. If I can get that from the DNPA, then he will be happy to publish our caches within SSSIs without specific permission for each. I will attend to this on Monday.

    #1091
    Dartmoor Dave
    Keymaster

    🙂 🙂 🙂 I think we are finally there! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I have today received written confirmation from Chris (Graculus) our reviewer that he is happy with a revised covering statement supplied by the DNPA (see post above).

    So, we now have a new set of geocaching guidelines for Dartmoor, issued by the DNPA, together with a covering statement written by the DNPA and agreed by Chris. We have all of this in writing!

    It has taken just 2 days short of 2 months from my first post under this topic until today to get this agreement. Had we all been in the same room we would probably have had agreement within 30 minutes, but facilitating by email is not the easiest of tasks.

    But it appears that we are there and my sincere thanks to both Andrew Watson (Head of Recreation, Acccess and Estates – DNPA) and to Chris (Graculus) for their respective agreements. There still needs to be a couple of amendments made to the respective web sites but everything is now agreed.

    I will add a new item to this web site with the new guidelines and the covering statement from the DNPA, but the bottom line is that we are now able to place geocaches within SSSIs on Dartmoor without needing specific permission for each cache.

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by Dartmoor Dave.
    #1093
    dartymoor
    Participant

    Great stuff!

    Geocaching owes you a beer, DD!

    #1094
    clownpunchers
    Participant

    Fantastic news, great effort on your part to persist for too long in what is a pretty ridiculous situation! I tried to list the caches placed I placed in an SSSI 2months ago, but they have been rejected again today unfortunately, I’m hoping the reviewer will accept the new guidelines soon, I don’t understand why it has to be such a battle though when surely a bit of common sense is all that is required, we do this for fun after all!! 🙂

    #1095
    muddypuddles
    Participant

    Well done, Dave, I think we all owe you a big thank you for persisting with this. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

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