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Pembroke Range West access question

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 THE.WALRUS 12 Sep 2020

Does anyone know what the access situation is with Pembroke / Range West?

The guidebook says that I need to get a briefing at Castlemartin Army Camp in order to get an access permit, but the BMC website shows that the last briefing was on August 1. 

Presumably something to do with CV-19.

Is it possible to attend a briefing this late in the season??

Post edited at 09:17
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 remus 12 Sep 2020
In reply to THE.WALRUS:

As you guessed a lot of briefings were cancelled this year due to covid. In fact I think they may have cancelled them all this year? I dont think there has been any announcement about when the briefings are going to restart.

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 Cusco 12 Sep 2020
In reply to THE.WALRUS:

For anywhere where there's a sensitive access agreement, you could ring them up, speak to their official climbing coordinator on the phone (not some [random employee/squaddie*]) and ask whether you can be [allowed to climb despite the access agreement/spared the briefing*] on the off chance and in the hope that whoever you've spoken to says yes.

That said, it might lead to understandable concerns within the climbing community, particularly if it causes any implications for future access. So it's not a recommended course of action.

*delete as appropriate

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 Wil Treasure 12 Sep 2020
In reply to THE.WALRUS:

The briefings are only ever on set dates anyway, you wouldn't be able to get one now regardless of Covid. 

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In reply to THE.WALRUS:

As you state, only climbers who have attended the annual official MoD safety briefing are allowed into Range West for climbing. 

Due to Covid restrictions, only one briefing was held this year and the lucky 16 who made it to that briefing can access the range for 2020/21 season. 

Unfortunately, the restrictions on indoor gatherings and other Covid related issues, has meant its not been possible for the MoD to run any other briefings this year and none will take place in 2020. 

When the dates for the 2021 briefings are agreed, they will be posted on the BMC website and BMC RAD.

Elfyn Jones

BMC Access & Conservation Officer (Wales)

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 Andrew Lodge 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Elfyn Jones BMC Cymru/Wales:

Please don't think I'm shooting the messenger here, I fully appreciate that what you say is correct.

But in 2020 or 2021 shouldn't it be possible to arrange an on line safety briefing? 

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 Luke90 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Andrew Lodge:

> Please don't think I'm shooting the messenger here, I fully appreciate that what you say is correct.

> But in 2020 or 2021 shouldn't it be possible to arrange an on line safety briefing? 

As someone who lives many hours driving from Pembroke, I very much like that idea. But I suspect the army are quite happy to keep the briefings reasonably committing to attend, I'm sure they don't want to let any more than a trickle of people into the range. Plus, they might doubt people's level of attention to an online session.

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 THE.WALRUS 12 Sep 2020

Thanks for the replies, everyone - looks like we'll give Range West a miss this year..

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In reply to Andrew Lodge:

We have asked for this to be considered on more than one occasion (and offered BMC funding, filming and resource to make it happen) but the reply from the MoD has always been that they require people to personally and physically attend a live briefing. 

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 John2 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Elfyn Jones BMC Cymru/Wales:

They do ask the participants to sign a form - it would be difficult to do this over a video link.

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 Andrew Lodge 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Elfyn Jones BMC Cymru/Wales:

Thanks, I would be amazed if it hadn't been suggested before but a 5 hour drive each way for a safety briefing is a bit off putting!

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 baron 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Andrew Lodge:

> Thanks, I would be amazed if it hadn't been suggested before but a 5 hour drive each way for a safety briefing is a bit off putting!

I went to the first long and eagerly awaited briefing when the army first allowed legal access to Range West. Sometime in the 1990’s?

The room was rammed full with climbers most of whom were very disappointed that the army would only allow 4(?) climbers a day onto the range.

As you said, a long drive for a briefing.

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 GrahamD 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Andrew Lodge:

With numbers allowed to climb each day strictly limited, this is probably intentional. 

> Thanks, I would be amazed if it hadn't been suggested before but a 5 hour drive each way for a safety briefing is a bit off putting!

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 Rod_Vortex 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Andrew Lodge:

Once the cameras were on there's a good chance that the anti-French rhetoric would be significantly reduced,  which would detract from the overall experience. 

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 John2 13 Sep 2020
In reply to baron:

Usually after a Saturday briefing it is announced that for that weekend as many climbers can go to Range West as wish to. 

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 Babika 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Elfyn Jones BMC Cymru/Wales:

This is baffling. I recently attended an online speed awareness workshop where I had to produce evidence to say who I was and remain visible to the speaker for the whole 2.5 hours in order to pass and be accredited with attendance.

There really is no practical reason why the MoD can't do this. Just intransigence.

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 GrahamD 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Babika:

> There really is no practical reason why the MoD can't do this. Just intransigence.

Alternatively,  why should they change ? They are presumably ok with the current status quo with only a limited number of climbers to deal with.

At least an actual briefing adds a degree of seriousness and gravitas to the whole thing.

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 John2 13 Sep 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

I know at least part of the reason for the current situation is that they wish to be able to prove for insurance and legal reasons that anyone injured on the range had been made aware of the risks.

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 spenser 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Babika:

The briefing is free to attend for climbers and once everyone is in the lecture theatre there is chap from the Army (a Sergeant Major or an officer IIRC) and one of the national park rangers there, your speed awareness workshop probably cost you £90 or so, there are probably twice as many climbers at the briefing and the same number of people involved in the delivery of the briefing.

I've been to a couple of the briefings now and haven't felt there was any issue with attending the Friday/ Saturday morning briefing given that the days are normally starting to get longer by that time of year anyway.

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 Babika 13 Sep 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

> Alternatively,  why should they change ? 

By that logic why should they have opened Range West at all? 

And the point I was making was that under Covid regs a workaround is possible and has been done by other government type bodies

Post edited at 16:52
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 GrahamD 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Babika:

Why indeed ? PR probably.  Most government briefings don't deal with live munitions of course.

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 Luke90 13 Sep 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

I suspect that allowing some tightly controlled and monitored access also reduces the number of people just sneaking in. Climbers tend to obey partial access arrangements more than total bans.

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 gethin_allen 14 Sep 2020

My only question about the briefing is why you have to do one every year? I've been to three in about 4 years and they were all identical. Could there not be a system where you attend a physical session first to get the bulk of the info and then for a few years you are just given  any info about changes on paper when you go to sign in at the guards hut before you go climbing.

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 GrahamD 14 Sep 2020
In reply to gethin_allen:

I suspect partially to keep numbers under control and also to prevent complacency.

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In reply to gethin_allen:

Your point and the others above are all valid but they are from a climbers perspective. 

From an Mod perspective I imagine it is quite different. 

Mod do not want us on Range west, they tolerate a limited number under controlled access. 

Mod keep this number limited by ensuring face to face briefings in a difficult to access location. 

Be thankful that the briefings aren't all scheduled for Wednesday lunchtimes to limit numbers further.

I am quite sure access could be more easily renewed and or delivered on line. I doubt there is a drive within mod to do so. 

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 John2 14 Sep 2020
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Most years, there is a rush to climb in Range West on the weekends when briefings are held, and for the rest of the year two or three climbers enter the range on an average day.

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 gethin_allen 14 Sep 2020
In reply to Presley Whippet:

As it stands their system is probably going to work for me as now that I'm living further away I probably won't be making it down there for a briefing and the bank holiday briefings are not ideal because they bring the obvious bank holiday crowds.

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