When the DCC first re-opened the mines at Alderley Edge, we re-excavated the entrance to Wood Mine with permission from the National Trust and obtained a lease on the mines from the Trust. Over the years, the constraints on our operations have increased steadily and this page summarises the present position. It has been prepared for the benefit of anyone else in a similar situation and to inform potential visitors to the site. The list of constraints is in no particular order. Further advice can be obtained from the National Association of Mining History Organisations, the British Caving Association or from the publication: Guidelines for the Leisure Use of Mines (ISBN 0 9517437 3 2).
Links on this page are sometimes to specific publications or pages on an external site and there is a risk of the host organisation moving these. If you have difficulty following any of the links, please e-mail the Webmaster [subject] Missing_link.
These rules, regulations and laws are administered by:
No doubt there are a few more I have missed. Any queries about these issues in connection with the Alderley Mines should be referred to Nigel Dibben (Mine Manager) on 01270 842767.
As our landlord, the National Trust controls the Club's activities by means of a system of consent coupled with safety measures such as Safe Systems of Work and Risk Assessments. The NT policy is primarily not to undertake invasive work unless it can be fully justified and re-opening mines is of course invasive. We work closely with the NT's local manager and the regional archaeologist to ensure that our projects are compatible with the Trust's aims. We also assist where other work by the National Trust at Alderley requires the specialist skills held by Club members.
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The mines were registered with the Health and Safety Executive as working mines under the Management and Administration of Safety and Health at Mines (MASHAM) Regulations 1993. These regulations have been revoked by the Mines Regulations 2014 but transitional regulations mean that the Club remains registered under the new regulations. As a result, the club has made certain arrangements to comply with the Mines Regulations. These are documented in a safety policy, organisation and arrangements which has been seen by the HSE. The club has appointed a Mine Manager and a Surveyor. The club also carries out risk assessments of its activities at Alderley Edge and prepares Safe Systems of Work for new digging activities. The mines are periodically visited by the Mine Inspector.
More information on mine safety can be obtained from HM Inspector of Mines at the Health and Safety Executive.
The Safety Policy, Organisation and Arrangements are available on the Alderley safety information page in the members' area (password required) together with generic risk assessments. Safety in caving and mine visiting is covered on the Caving Safely page on the caving section of the website. At Alderley Edge, extra measures are taken for safety including electrical inspection and testing regimes which are similar to those used in commercial organisations.
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The DCC does not operate as an "activity centre" as defined in the Regulations although it is acknowledged that they (i.e. The Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004) define caving as an "adventure activity" and caving is further defined in the guidance as encompassing all of the activities carried out at Alderley Edge. The DCC comply with the regulations by maintaining the following rules:
No charge will be made or donation will be expected from any person under the age of 18 for a normal trip. No payment shall be requested on behalf of a group as a whole in which there are people under 18 and no donation beyond the amount normally offered will be expected from adults accompanying a group with young people.
Open Days are designed to introduce and demonstrate the Club's activities to a wider audience and to encourage new members. The DCC does not need a licence for these activities and can charge people under-18 on Open Days.
If it is decided that for any other particular event the donations that would be received from people under 18 would represent a significant loss to the Club, then the rule would be that persons under 18 could only be admitted if accompanied by a parent or person with parental responsibility, again exempting the Club from licensing.
The mines at Alderley Edge are however used by some outdoor pursuit centres for caving activity but this is seen as being the responsibility of the centres concerned as the Club provides no other facilities than loan of a key.
More information on the licensing of adventure activities can be obtained from the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority which now comes under the HSE.
In 2012, the HSE announced that 'The review of health and safety (Common Sense, Common Safety) recommended that the adventure activities licensing regime be abolished. The timescale for this is unknown and is dependent on Parliamentary processes but is unlikely to be before late 2013. More information will be on the HSE website as it becomes available. Until the existing regime ends, licensing requirements remain in place.'
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Alderley Edge was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the 1980s. The designation was extended to cover the whole of West Mine in 1993 and protects the geology of the area. Natural England, who police SSSIs, give consent for any work, known as a "Potentially Damaging Operation" or PDO, which may harm the site. The PDOs which are relevant to the Club are: (1) dumping, spreading or discharging of any materials, (2) drainage including the use of mole, tile, tunnel or other artificial drains, (3) extraction of minerals, (4) construction, removal or destruction or roads, tracks, walls, fences, hard-stands, banks, ditches or other earthworks, (5) erection of permanent or temporary structures, or the undertaking of engineering works, including drilling, and (6) modification of natural or man-made features including cave and mine entrances, clearance of boulders, large stones, loose rock, scree or spoil and battering, buttressing, grading or seeding rock-faces, outcrops or cuttings, infilling of pits and quarries and blocking or infilling old mine workings. Consent is obtained by the Club on a periodical basis for the work which is foreseen for the next year or so.
More information on SSSIs can be obtained from Natural England. Alderley Edge in particular can be found on the Natural England database. Prior to October 2006, responsibility for SSSIs lay with English Nature which has now been subsumed into Natural England.
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As well as being a SSSI, Alderley Edge was designated as a Regionally Important Geological/ geomorphological Site or RIGS. The RIGS system in Cheshire has not functioned perfectly for a few years and no information has ever been passed to the DCC officials or mine trustees on the implications. Information about RIGS in Cheshire (2011) suggests that Alderley Edge was not re-designated, indeed, the Cheshire RIGS booklet does not even mention Alderley Edge as a SSSI!
More information on RIGs can be obtained from Wikipedia.
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Scheduling protects historically interesting sites such as the five locations at Alderley Edge which were scheduled as monuments in 2001. These are: (1) the Beacon mound, (2) Golden Stone, (3) a boundary marker at Saddlebole, (4) the 19th/20th century copper treatment works between West and Wood mines and (5) most of Engine Vein. The sites of interest to the Club are (4) and (5). The West/Wood site was erroneously described as a cobalt works by English Heritage. The effect on the Club of location (4) is that work at Scout Hole and dumping at Stump Shaft will need consent. Three short sections of Wood Mine passage are also covered by scheduling: beyond Blue Lake and near the Mousehole on both the upper and lower levels. The scheduling of Engine Vein (5) affects almost all potential work on the site. No digging can take place below or above ground within 35 metres of the current fence line without consent from the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport at DCMS (in consultation with Historic England).
More information on SMs can be obtained from Historic England or the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. As the DCMS is also responsible for pubs, gambling and the Olympics, they may be a bit busy and contact with Historic England is probably more useful in the first instance.
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This Act of Parliament was introduced in October 2000 to protect people under 18 from harm by the people caring for them. The term care extends to any activity where adults have power over children or could harm them so this includes caving. The law requires people in some professions to be vetted by police but for caving purposes it is only necessary to have a policy in place to minimise the risk and to handle cases where there is a suspicion or allegation of abuse or harm. The Club's approach is to draw up a policy based on the NCA policy. The policy is that for groups visiting Alderley Edge, there must be an adult for every three children, in addition to the group leaders. For caving, the policy requires two adults to be with any child at any time, especially when vulnerable, e.g. changing at a cave or camping etc.
POCA is now the responsibility of the DFES (Department For Education and Skills) who treat it largely as a matter for teachers although of course POCA applies to any activity. However, there is an up-to-date guide called "Working together to safeguard children" on a government website HERE which contains the new responsibilities. This is a PDF dated July 2018. The host website for this document is currently https://www.gov.uk/education/safeguarding-pupils but will probably change again.
The Club's POCA policy is available on the Alderley information page in the members' area (password required).
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This 1981 act protects wildlife from harm. It is particularly relevant at Alderley Edge because it provides the main protection for bats (see the page on biology). The act prohibits killing, taking or disturbing bats as well as damaging or obstructing bat habitats. The law originally referred to "intentional" harm but has been refined with the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) to be "reckless intentional" harm. The only people who can handle or study bats are people with licences granted by Natural England. There are cavers and miners with bat licences so dealing with a licensed bat person does not necessarily lead to unsympathetic removal of access arrangements. More information can be found on the DEFRA website, or at www.bats.org.uk.
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CROW was enacted in 2000 and extends the public's ability to enjoy the countryside whilst also providing safeguards for landowners and occupiers. It created a new statutory right of access and modernise the rights of way system as well as giving greater protection to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), providing better management arrangements for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and strengthening wildlife enforcement legislation.
The parts of the Act relevant to the Alderley Edge mines are mentioned below.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest
It improves the procedures associated with the notification, protection and management of SSSIs.
It strengthens legal protection for threatened species and bring up to date the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
For further information on CROW, go to the Natural England website for a start.
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If you are interested in more information about the topics covered on this page, please get in touch with the Club (alderleymines [at] Derbyscc.org.uk [subject] Legal_enquiry) . You can also telephone +44 (0)1270 842767 but as I am normally at work during the daytime, please be prepared to leave a message on the answering machine.