Gower Bolting agreement

Posted by Elfyn Jones on 21/10/2011
Minchin Hole by Sian Musgrave National Trust

The National Trust and other conservation bodies on Gower have expressed serious concerns about what they see as new bolting on cliffs on their land on Gower, and have stated clearly that they need to be consulted before any further bolting takes place.

Following on from a well attended debate on the bolting policy on Gower in July, the National Trust (NT) have expressed serious concern at some of the proposals to retro-bolt some previously unbolted cliffs. They have stated to the BMC that despite many years of co-operation and agreements (including the recent un-banning of areas such as Minchin Hole), that they are very unhappy that new bolting has continued without consultation on areas which they feel is of conservation importance. Most of the cliffs along the South Gower coast have recently been re-designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and the conservation bodies have made it clear that if new bolting continues without consultation they would use the powers available under the designation to take action againts bolting and even individual bolters.

Following the July meeting, the climbers who were at the meeting voted, that from an ethical viewpoint, it would be acceptable to allow bolting on several cliffs that were previously bolt free. However this was always subject to the proviso that this also had to be acceptable to the landowners and conservation bodies, as many of the cliffs contain important botanical, archaelogical and geological features.

In particular they would strongly oppose any bolting at Giant's Cave or at any venues that were not previously bolted and agreed in advance with them. Originally the National Trust management  had wanted to take an even stronger stance against fixed equipment and had stated to  the BMC that they wanted the removal of all fixed equipment from the Gower cliffs. Follwing some protracted negotiations and site visits, involving the BMC Access Officer and local BMC reps Stu Llewelyn and Matt Woodfield, the NT and representatives from other conservation bodies, including the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and the local Wildlife Trust  agreed that existing bolts on cliffs where bolting was agreed in the recent bolt debate could stay, but that any new bolting without their approval would lead to all exsiting bolt agreements being withdrawn.

In order to help explain the ecological and conservation importance of the cliffs, and to explain the landowners concerns the BMC has agreed to produce a "Green Guide" for climbers on Gower, which will also identify those cliffs where bolting is acceptable (from both an ethical and landowners stance).

In the meantime if you have any plans for new sports routes on Gower - please contact the BMC's local access rep, mattwoodfield@hotmail.com (he won't steal your projects-honest!) in order that he can discuss it with the National Trust and the other conservation bodies.

 



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