Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Tiff
Posts: 204
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Calstock or Falmouth

Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Tiff » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:39 am

We had a good day paddling and practicing rescues etc in the Looe area today, in preparation for our trip to Canda in a week.
With a good 5-6' swell on the southern exposed side of the island it was certainly good fun. Especially when four seals came to watch us in the reef...Although we didn't fancy swimming with them so had to carry on to stay upright.

My Orion hatch cover was leaking and took on a fair bit of water, so decided to stop below high water mark on the lee side of Looe Island to empty out (15 litres!), before carrying on. Only to be meet immediately by a Cornish Wildlife Trust 'warden' telling us polity to bugger off. When I mentioned crown land/access she commented on how the island was used by Edward VII to pay off a gambling debt and as such they own out to the low water mark! She then stayed with us until we left making sure we didn't "destroy the vulnerable ecosystem" by remaining there - a tidal section of beach!

So first off has anyone actually seen their crown exception in writing, signed by the reigning monarch? (the only one who can issue such an order). She said it was private in the deeds, which is along way from a signed exception...

Also if they do have an exemption, does anyone know if it was reinstated after WWI and then WWII? Since British government and Crown, duly retracted all crown exemptions in theses periods, for fear of enemy sympathisers and then 5th Columnists, using these exempt pieces of landing for land points/weak points in our national defense.

I would really like to know, out of local interest to see if the CWT are indeed acting within the law.

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:51 am

Prior to the publication of SWSK (and after an even ruder Looe Island experience), I had an extended correspondence with the CWT in which I quoted various of their own access policy statements at them, and compared the situation to the other isles of the UK.

The Chairman type person I contacted was sympathetic and seemingly in agreement, and was keen to resolve the kayak-access issue before the book went to publication. However, when he copied our correspondence in to the island warden(s), an entirely different perspective emerged, basically the attitude that you encountered. The Chairman type caved in at this point - so, you can see for yourself what I finally wrote in SWSK.

The issue is complicated also by the private residents on the island, who are totally anti-visitors and seem to act as if it's still 'their' island. This is perhaps because their family owned it before it was donated to the CWT.
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

User avatar
chris-uk
Posts: 961
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 8:45 pm
Location: South Hams, Devon

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by chris-uk » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:24 am

Should the deeds not be available through land registry?

Chris

Bod
Posts: 1591
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 1:50 pm
Location: Exeter

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Bod » Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:59 am

CWT's own website says the following :

"Other access information
Boats and jet skis are not allowed to land on the island without prior permission. If necessary, kayakers are able to use the main, northern beach for a brief rest stop only. People should not land on the back of the island or under the cliffs where wildlife may be disturbed."
John B.

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:08 am

From their 2008-9 review ...
• We continued to enhance habitat and access throughout our suite of nature reserves, including St George’s Island, thanks to funds from SITA Cornwall Trust.

http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk ... _08_09.pdf
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

Tiff
Posts: 204
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Calstock or Falmouth

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Tiff » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:36 pm

Mark, interesting to hear that their apparent 'policy' hasn't changed from two years ago, with regards to kayak access then! However we were given the option of visiting the island.... By kayaking back to the mainland, leaving our boats their and paying for a boat trip back across using their 'approved' vessel. Plus then paying a visiting fee! Something we didn't exactly react well to!

Good thinking Chris, I will contact the Land Registry to see if they have any further information. Since they may well own the island, but without an updated crown exemption they cannot restrict access.

Also I think it is fairly apparent that they are not following the actions mentioned in Bod's quote. The Ranneys were putting up a good 5-6' swell and all I wanted to do was empty a flooded hatch and stretch my legs on the beach. However she was certainly not going to allow me to do that!

I wander what the CWT think the island is classed as within English law? Since if they consider themselves crown exempt, they are in effect the same as the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. As such would have their own laws etc, and perhaps more important tax exemptions! Maybe I'm thinking into this too much....but I'm sure the CWT would love to help their cause with a tax haven on the books!

Anybody else got an idea or had an experience with the island?

User avatar
nickcrowhurst
Posts: 1099
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:07 pm
Location: Cornwall, between swims.
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 47 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by nickcrowhurst » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:58 pm

chris-uk wrote:Should the deeds not be available through land registry?Chris
I just happened to be ambling through the Plymouth Land Registry today, so I called up Looe Island (aka St George's Island)on the screen. Its Land Registry Title number is CL218106, and its postcode is PL13 2AB.
The titled area (delimited in red on the plan) includes the foreshore all round the island. The only part outside the red limit which looks as if it may dry at lowish water is the area of rocks to the north of the northern beach. The titled conveyance includes the foreshore with the island. I saw no mention of any Crown Exemption, FWIW, and I have no knowledge of that part of the law, and how it interacts with a title.
A copy of the title is available online from www.landregistry.gov.uk for 4 pounds, with a copy of the plan costing another 4 pounds.
Nick.

User avatar
nickcrowhurst
Posts: 1099
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:07 pm
Location: Cornwall, between swims.
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 47 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by nickcrowhurst » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:23 pm

A little light surfing indicates that the Crown only owns about %55 of the foreshore, and www.nature.net/law/rivers.html includes the following, albeit not definitively:

"Access to beaches and the foreshore.........
The foreshore is the area between the high water mark and the low water mark. When the tide is in there is an absolute right to navigate through the water (although not necessarily a right to land a boat or launch one) and so it is not possible to fence off foreshore areas, as this would limit navigation. All foreshore belongs to the Crown unless it has in the past been sold or given away. This has occurred in a few places. However, there is no legal right of access to the foreshore."

Nick.

Tiff
Posts: 204
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Calstock or Falmouth

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Tiff » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:00 pm

Hello Nick,
Thank you very much for looking it up at the registry office. It sounds like they do own the foreshore then. Yet without crown exemption, once covered with the tide it should still be permissible to paddle over it (territorial waters) - as mentioned on the website you provided. However the warden was adamant that we should get out of 'their' waters, to minimise disturbance to the islands 'fragile ecosystem!'.
When I get back to university in October I will look it up under the marine section of the law library. I'm not 100% but I believe their is also a caveat within the law, that any vessel unable to proceed due to weather/technical issues may land on private foreshore to wait out a storm or correct the problem (a flooded hatch in my case). In which case a small fee may be payable if the unintended landing inhibits the owner preceding with his business (i.e. wildfowling etc.).

User avatar
chris-uk
Posts: 961
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 8:45 pm
Location: South Hams, Devon

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by chris-uk » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:12 pm

Yes, many thanks for your sleuthing Nick, I think this is (for me) one of the most interesting discussions that has been on here for quite a while!

Chris

Billy The Fisherman
Posts: 154
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:46 pm
Location: Close to the Tyne

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Billy The Fisherman » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:35 pm

Anglers have had similar problems in other areas and took the matter to court. The beach and foreshore only include the area down to the mean low water mark, therefore if stay below this, you are still technically on the high seas even if you are on the beach at a low spring tide. Secondly, there is something in the Magna Carta about right of access to the foreshore – I cannot remember, or perhaps didn’t know in the first place what it said though.

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:49 pm

I think the land ownership issue is largely irrelevant in this instance, regardless of what it proves either way.

The point is that we are discussing a public access nature reserve.

From the CWT's own site ...

'Access

Visitors' access to nature reserves is a high priority for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, as is ensuring their enjoyment is maximised. The majority of the Trust's nature reserves are open all year round and only a few require a permit to visit.

Where access is restricted this is done in order to protect the wildlife. Dogs are not allowed on some reserves.

People are a very important factor in managing the Trust's nature reserves whether they are from the local community and use the reserve daily or a casual visitor. Facilities such as signs, information boards, way-marked trails and boardwalks are installed and maintained to guide visitors. Where possible, access for the less able is provided.

Specific access for wheelchairs is provided on some nature reserves and further information regarding terrain can be obtained from the Trust.
'
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:55 pm

Where access is restricted this is done in order to protect the wildlife. Dogs are not allowed on some reserves.
Regardless of this, the reasons I was given for banning visits by paddlers were ...

a] Health and safety
b] Poor behaviour by paddlers - they once saw some fornicating on the far side of the isle.



As I said, the Chairman fellow seemed to wholly agree with me and happy to change things - but then it became obvious that the island warden was anti-paddlers, and there it ended.

I feel he needs more letters ...
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

Incayak
Posts: 131
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:42 pm
Location: London
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Incayak » Thu Sep 03, 2009 12:06 am

But no more fornicators

User avatar
nickcrowhurst
Posts: 1099
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:07 pm
Location: Cornwall, between swims.
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 47 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by nickcrowhurst » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:23 am

Mark R wrote: paddlers ....fornicating....
SOTs ?

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:55 pm

nickcrowhurst wrote:SOTs ?
No, I think it was just the missionary position.
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

User avatar
nickcrowhurst
Posts: 1099
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:07 pm
Location: Cornwall, between swims.
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 47 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by nickcrowhurst » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:19 pm

Mark R wrote:No, I think it was just the missionary position.
Then we can assure the warden that they were not sea kayakers.

User avatar
jcox
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:36 pm
Location: High Wycombe

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by jcox » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:52 pm

I looked this up a couple of years back, because the beaches at Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton also have their foreshores in private hands.

These types of leases and gifts are managed by the Crown Estate at http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/. In my case they were most helpful and able to confirm that Parkin Estates have a lease over the foreshore at Woolacombe. That means the foreshore, when uncovered, is private property, and if you access that property in a way that the owner doesnt like, they can ask you to leave.

In the case of Fowey Island it might be worth contacting the crown estate to ask about it, but it has to be odds-on that they do have such a lease over the foreshore, so they are within your rights to tell you to leave, and can use force to eject you if you wont.

When the tide is up though, maritime regulations apply, so unless there is a byelaw restricting access, you can paddle all you want over the wet part of their foreshore.

Another common use of a lease over the foreshaw is for things like pipelines, piers and jetties. You need to control the bit of land you're putting your jetty on, so you get a lease off the Crown Estate. This allows you to make it private, which is probably a good thing.

In Milford Haven, you probably have both. The harbour byelaws make it illegal to go near the oil terminal jetties, and the oil company lease on the jetty makes it private property too.
Last edited by jcox on Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Well the forecast said it would be good.

User avatar
jcox
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:36 pm
Location: High Wycombe

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by jcox » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:56 pm

Tiff wrote: My Orion hatch cover was leaking and took on a fair bit of water, so decided to stop below high water mark on the lee side of Looe Island to empty out (15 litres!), before carrying on. Only to be meet immediately by a Cornish Wildlife Trust 'warden' telling us polity to bugger off.
Incidentally, most trespasses are not criminal offences. So you did the sensible thing IMNSHO. You deliberately trespassed to do what you needed, and then left when asked to do so. I used the same concept to recce Taplow paper mill with a view to getting in the top of the Jubilee River the other day. I had a good nose around looking for viable access points before the security guard asked me to leave, which I of course did.
Well the forecast said it would be good.

dwbald
Posts: 231
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:49 pm
Location: Plymouth

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by dwbald » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:55 am

nickcrowhurst wrote:
Mark R wrote:No, I think it was just the missionary position.
Then we can assure the warden that they were not sea kayakers.
I was reading this topic thinking a well structured sensible discussion on UKRG!!!

But then you restored my faith with this PMSL now covered in coffee ouch!

I've landed on Looe (St Goerge) island quite a few times, Lunch/leg stretch stop never been even approached! Usually land on the north western end of the beach, think it might be harder to spot you round there!
And release pressel...
Cheers Dave B

User avatar
Chris W
Posts: 1331
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2004 6:26 pm
Location: Hurley, Shepperton, Sunbury...

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Chris W » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:36 pm

If you'd paddled on Sunday you'd have had no access problems. Paddling round from Fowey to Looe, the fog was so think I could barely see the mainland at times, never mind Looe Island. Maybe taking the compass along would have been a good idea after all. The only other boats I encountered were two SoTs (the boats, not the smutty Mark R version). A few hundred yards before Polperro, a drifting, emtpy SoT appeared out of the gloom. Spooky. I could see someone in the water. Oh dear. When I asked if he was OK, he said (in a French accent) that yes, he was fishing ("I am feeeeeshing") and held up two rather large fish. The visibility was dreadful. 20 yds further on another empty SoT appeared, with no sign of anyone. I assume his friend was there somewhere, hard to tell.

SoT boating...hardcore.

Chris.
Chris Wheeler

Bod
Posts: 1591
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 1:50 pm
Location: Exeter

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Bod » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:49 pm

Chris W wrote:
SoT boating...hardcore.

Chris.
That would require excellent balance.
John B.

Nick P
Posts: 238
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 8:40 am
Location: Looe, Cornwall
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Nick P » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:25 pm

Only just seen this thread while looking for something else and jut thought I would clarify/explain a few points if I can.

Since CWT took over the ownership of the island in 2003 I was invited to join the island management group (as a marine scientist and advisor to the group on marine biological matters).

Regarding the Crown Estates - Yes CWT does 'own' the foreshore, since ownership was indeed transferred as a gambling debt settlement in the past. This oddity caused no end of problems during the legal transfer of ownership from the previous owners (the Atkins sisters) to CWT.

The island is after all a Nature Reserve and this can affect all who visit it. This does not justify rudeness to casual visitors, but just consider the following points:

From the terrestrial perspective, much of the island is VERY undisturbed. Greater black backed gulls roost and nest on 'Little Island' at the SE end (connected via a small footbridge). Access to this area is strictly controlled from land to avoid disturbance BUT, there have been instances of kayakers landing there from seaward.

Similarly the cliffs and coves support a large breeding colony of Cormorants and Shags, both of which can be disturbed by uncontrolled landing.

There is a small, partly resident, partly errant population of Grey Seals (and one Common Seal this year). The seals haul out on the ranneys reef to the south of the island and there have been instances of disturbance by kayakers, jetskis and small boats at different times.

Finally, the intertidal flora and fauna is delicate - in the sense that it is almost completely undisturbed by human activity - compared to Hannafore shore on the adjacent mainland. For this reason alone CWT tries to minimise activities on parts of the shore. In fact we give considerable thought to disturbance during the annual biological survey of two transects on the island - one on a sheltered shore, one on an exposed shore.

However, part of CWT's remit, as I understand it, is to inform, educate and add to visitors enjoyment when they visit its reserves. While 'official' visitors arriving via its ferry can be briefed and given guidance, unofficial visitors - kayakers, swimmers/snorkellers and even folk who wade across at low tide often arrive 'via the back door' and can bypass all such information.

There have been a great many instances of kayakers (mostly SOTs it has to be said) turning up and wandering all over the place till the warden 'catches' them. One or two is not a problem, but tens of people, every day can wear the wardens patience.
Its a difficult thing to manage without plastering the island with notices. We hope to provide more information over on the mainland where the majority of paddlers/snorkellers etc. get in the water, explaining to all abouts the needs of the nature reserve, and trust that they will comply. I for one have proposed that paddlers be allowed to land (free of charge) on the main island beach to stretch legs, empty water out etc., but we even had oystercatchers nest on the main beach this year, as they do - right out in the open amongst the pebbles, so maybe even this level of access will need more control and prectical management.

I will certainly feed the comments here to the next management meeting and hopefully we can make the island more friendly to kayakers while also protecting and serving the needs of the nature reserve. In the meantime, if you visit, just consider some of the points above.

Regards

Nick

User avatar
jcox
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:36 pm
Location: High Wycombe

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by jcox » Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:44 pm

Nick P wrote:Only just seen this thread while looking for something else and jut thought I would clarify/explain a few points if I can.
Thanks for taking the trouble to clarify.
Well the forecast said it would be good.

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:38 am

Nick P wrote:There have been a great many instances of kayakers (mostly SOTs it has to be said)
Does the fact that they're paddling SOTs make any difference to anything?
Nick P wrote:I for one have proposed that paddlers be allowed to land (free of charge) on the main island beach to stretch legs, empty water out etc.
This sounds like an ironic joke post, but sadly I suspect it isn't.

Take a long hard look at the coast and islands in the region, and then tell me what is different about Looe - I put it to you that the answer is, nothing much, except that the CWT own it.
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

User avatar
Tamar
Posts: 29
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:15 pm
Location: Tamar Valley

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Tamar » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:27 am

I suspect the reference to SOT's is that they are a different user group to traditional sea kayakers - possibly a paddler who has invested in the longer thinner craft is deemed to be a bit more 'serious' and therefore thoughtful about what they are doing. As sweeping generalisation this might hold some water, although it is always dangerous to jump to conclusions obviously.

As serious paddlers whether sat 'in' or 'on' a beamier short boats or in a long thin ones, most of us would pride ourselves in being sensitive to wildlife disturbance and minimising our impact but I suspect not all paddlers are like that. I am still amazed that any kayaker can leave litter in remote treasured places but but we can probably think of places where it has happened.

In terms of whether the Island is different to the rest of the coast I have not paddled there but it is starting to sound quite interesting, I can see why the owners would be protective because it is more cut off than the main coast. It doesn't make it completely different as in fact lots of spots on the Cornish coast are 'cut off' from casual visitors (even on the mainland).

Is there any guidance to paddlers on the least intrusive way landing on foreshores regardless as to whether it is on this island or not?

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3613
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 38 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:28 pm

In Scotland, the most possesive and intollerant "land owners" I have come across have been scientists/naturalists on Rum and Bhuddist monks on Arran. In contrast, Lord Astor (Jura) could not have been more welcoming.

Thank God for the Land Reform (Scotland) Act.

Douglas

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8048
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 9 times

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by MikeB » Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:54 pm

Indeed - vested interest all to often produces intollerance - no matter how well meaning that may be in the case of Rum.

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24129
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Contact:

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Mark R » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:09 pm

I'm in the process of reviewing my notes on access to Looe/ St George Island in SWSK.

Has anything recently changed in CWT's attitude to or understanding of paddlers?

Cheers,
Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

Nick P
Posts: 238
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 8:40 am
Location: Looe, Cornwall
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Looe Island - Crown Exemption

Post by Nick P » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:44 pm

Sadly Mark, things have not improved at all regarding kayaker access to the island and the wardens line still seems to be to actively shoo paddlers away. I know the wardens well, and have tried to talk them round, but they still see kayakers as the principal disturbers of seabirds and hauled out seals.
Ironically, the wardens are both paddlers themselves.
However, despite this intolerant attitude, loads of folk still paddle around the island and enjoy the experience.
So, I guess the line should still be that although paddlers are not welcomed to the island, there is nothing that should prevent them paddling around.
Its such a shame!

Nick

Post Reply