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TOPIC: Gold Panning ban in North Wales

Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1346

  • Freepanner
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Hello from beautiful Wales

There was a news article here on 11 December about gold panners in North Wales being threatened with prosecution for damaging wildlife. I have thoroughly investigated the allegations referred to, and found that there is no evidence whatsoever for the most serious claims. I have spoken to the police wildlife officer, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency, a number of environmental trusts and local witnesses, including fishermen.

Here is the true story.

I pan only in areas where there is a public right of access for recreational activities. I am the trustee of a registered charity, and my nuggets and gold flakes are put in trust, for charitable, educational and scientific purposes. I always work carefully, I am friendly and informative to locals and tourists, and I don't leave massive holes after me when I am finished, unlike a few others who liked to wait until I went home to jump in after me.

The panners mentioned in the article, Mr Jones, Mr Andrews and Mr Thurkettle all do it for personal profit, which is their right, if they keep within the law. However, the latter run expensive courses often in breach of access legislation, which bans any activities for profity. These two are therefore responsible for introducing hundreds of ill-prepared, ill-equiped, and some thoughtless and selfish greenhorns into this hobby over many years. In my view, this reckless profiteering from the gullible is a hustle which must be stopped. Now, Mr Jones is a great guy and a great prospector, and I wouldn't criticise him, as he always got permission to pan on private land I'm told. But Mr Andrews and Mr Thurkettle like to run their courses on access land and private stretches of river. They never get permission from the forestry or private riparian owners, and this also has caused complaints from these owners. After their courses, their students keep coming back to these private areas and the complaints keep getting worse each year. They are also totally uninsured for their clients, putting them at great risk and taking no proper responsibility.

Incredibly, these two jokers are the very same guys who have had the cheek to claim to represent all panners, on behalf of the British Goldpanners Association (GPA). The GPA helped to push the authorities into erecting their prohibition signs by applying for a mass rally on one of the rivers.

When they were told to leave last April, they tried to blame the entire problem on one panner, a so called 'Irish Brian'. This was a race hate crime, because they then made up totally ludicrous stories about Irish Brian digging up tonnes of bedrock on one river and digging holes big enough to hide cars in. They even went along with a totally ridiculous story that Irish Brian killed whole populations of rare freshwater pearl mussels, otters and who knows what else. The local press didn't check the facts, they just rushed to press with these unfounded rumours. For a start, the Countryside Council for Wales' website confirms that the rare mussels are only found in one or two locations on an entirely different river. It is also absolutely clear that the fish spawning areas are located in the upper tributaries in calmer waters. The gold-bearing areas are prone to extreme conditions, spates, floods, forced pool reaches from fallen pine trees, whose needles cause highly acidic conditions not suited to any sensitive species. The fact is that the gold bearing rivers are pretty much fauna barren, apart from migrating fish, and some interesting flora in the banks. The warning signs have actually done more harm than good, by forcing panners into previously undisturbed areas where fish actually do spawn and grow. At one stage the authorities stated that panning was not permitted in the whole of North Wales, even though the warning signs were only erected along the banks of two rivers. They have backed down on this now, but the negative publicity has drawn attention to the gold in the area, which could be bringing in criminal gangs, hence the pictures of bank digging which took place more recently. That is a problem, but without responsible panners on the scene, it is easier for the criminals to get away with it. They are unlikely to have found much, if anything of course, as they were digging into organic material, not the goldbearing placers. Probably not skilled or knowledgeable enough to know how to prospect in the best part of the cold river.

So, why did the BGA negotiators go along with this attack on one innocent panner and the totally fictitous stories about mussels, otters, fish eggs and the rest?

Quite simple, they believed that if they helped to spread the rumours for the authorities this would scare the other panners away and give them control. They actually expected the authorities to grant the BGA control of a licencing system, on the basis that their members are responsible. Guys who con hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds from greenhorns and then let them loose in private riverbeds are hardly responsible. The authorities refused to give direct consent to the BGA, instead they required the BGA to satisfy an impossible set of conditions, ie that they would guarantee that everyone would abide by a code of conduct, which would ban most of the panner's equipment. No sluice, no crowbars, no handpumps, no buckets. Just a small pan, a trowel and not a snowball's chance in hell of finding anything worthwhile.

Why did they agree to these hopeless rules? For a start, Mr Thurkettle is a sniper, he doesn't use a sluice or pump or dig hardpack etc. He rummages in bedrock underwater in his drysuit and snorkel looking for trapped gold. It is hard to prove, but I have seen some snipers break apart large sections of bedrock to get at the trapped flakes, doing more damage to the bedrock banks in the canyons than anyone has ever done in the soft banks further downstream. Mr Andrews would be quite happy I suppose to collect his dosh just by teaching basic panning with minimum tools, as he is old and knackered and hasn't got the energy or ability to dig, pump and sluice to any professional standard.
Rumour has it that Mr Andrews is a relative newcomer to the scene, unlike Mr Thurkettle who has been profiting from this 'hobby' as a self-proclaimed 'professional' for thirty years.

Now, I would have left them alone to their business if they hadn't started attacking one individual and entirely innocent panner, sold out their mates with a hopeless set of rules and then failed totally to gain permission for any kind of panning. These jokers weren't brave enough, unlike Mr Jones, to point out to the authorities that they had wilfully misled police about the non existent mussels and all of the other made up damage. Some bank digging did take place and those guys should have been held to account, but the authorities lost their chance to gather evidence on this aspect of the case because they chased away all of the potential witnesses without interviewing them!!! In my view, misleading police about alleged and very serious wildlife crimes is an offence and should be investigated.

However, I have discovered a way for panners to enjoy this hobby, without having to bow to the intimidation, mismanagement and general confusion employed by the various authorities. Any panning activities must be truly for charitable, educational and scientific purposes. This doesn't mean that panners can't keep samples for their own private study, but it is important for findings to be reported and assayed.

Anyone who would like to support this positive initiative and help to restore order and sanity to panning in Wales is welcome to contact me by pm.

Thanks

Brian Wright Treasurer Gold Rivers Trust
Last Edit: 8 years 4 months ago by Freepanner. Reason: better wording
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1347

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Hi Brian, and welcome aboard TreasureWorks, It's good to have you with us.
Tom
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1362

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Hi Brian, I'm the reporter who wrote the article about the meeting in December and will be covering any follow-up news as it happens (hopefully). Could we meet up next time you're in North Wales
Last Edit: 8 years 4 months ago by geoff.
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1363

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Welcome aboard Geoff, its good to have you aboard TreasureWorks as well. We too are looking forward to a follow up to this story.

Tom
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1364

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wreckdiver1715 wrote:
Hi Brian, and welcome aboard TreasureWorks, It's good to have you with us.
Tom

Hi Tom and thanks for producing such a fantastic site. I'll post news of developments in Wales. It could be a tricky job trying to convince the various authorities here that they have adopted entirely the wrong approach. However, I am determined to change the public perspective of panning, from its rather mystic and sometimes grubby image, into one of cultural heritage, education, science and potential wealth for local communities.

I have been contacted by two reporters now, hoping to give the subject a more positive slant.

Best wishes to you for your 2011 adventures.

Brian

I hope this image of some of my Welsh nuggets and pickers will not start a gold rush.
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1365

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Oh, looks as if my pic didn't upload after I browsed it. It is just under 680 kb, is this too big?
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1366

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Thanks Brian for the kind words about our web site. We are working very hard to make TreasureWorks the leading site on the web for treasure hunters all over the world. I wish you much success with you endeavors’ in Wales and we look forward to hearing the progress as things develop. Many of our members are dealing with a similar situation in Florida concerning the search for Spanish treasure ships along the Florida coast.


Tom
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
Last Edit: 8 years 4 months ago by wreckdiver.
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1367

  • Tim Williams
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I always use 640x480. No problems using that size. Welcome to the forums. Hope to read more on your adventures...
Home of the Arc-Geo logger imaging system! Now you can see what you've been missing.

Stay Blessed,

Tim
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1369

  • Freepanner
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Thanks Tim
Yes, wandering around these mountains and forests is deliciously adventurous, though I have yet to stumble across one of those mythical Welsh pink bears with the ostrich feather hats. These are about as real as the official stories I'm fighting to expose. Anyhow, what do you use a 640x480 for these days?
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 8 years 4 months ago #1371

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I use ifranview to convert. It's free and quick.
Home of the Arc-Geo logger imaging system! Now you can see what you've been missing.

Stay Blessed,

Tim
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 7 years 11 months ago #2734

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Maybe people would like to See Mr Wright at work?

www.demotix.com/news/619541/gold-panner-risks-unlimited-fines-plunder-protected-welsh-river

Leisure Panning? I think not.
I'm also curious about Mr Wright claiming:
"I am the trustee of a registered charity, and my nuggets and gold flakes are put in trust, for charitable, educational and scientific purposes"
Yet Mr Wright has been stating on many Forums that he wants to make and sell Jewellery from Welsh Gold, though I see has has pulled several of his posts where he said that.
He stated on the Goldrefining Forum:

"I would welcome comments about whether our jewellery should contain 100% pure Welsh unrefined gold (including the other 33 elements), or if it should be fully refined and diluted to 18 or 9 ct. "

"I plan to make pure, unrefined Welsh gold jewellery."

So I see a contradiction somewhere.
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 7 years 11 months ago #2740

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AU24 wrote:
Maybe people would like to See Mr Wright at work?

www.demotix.com/news/619541/gold-panner-risks-unlimited-fines-plunder-protected-welsh-river

Leisure Panning? I think not.

Oh, you again, your posts on other forums about this were deleted. Look again my friend. I believe I have a right to set the record straight. For those who are interested, as it turned out, contrary to his initial friendly proposal, the reporter who took the pictures and wrote the story was looking for a scandal. When he first contacted me he was all apologetic that his previous story in the Daily Post was full of errors, eg. that no freshwater pearl mussels exist on the Afon Wen, that there was no evidence of damage by me, he knew that I wasn't digging in the banks, that I hadn't dug up tonnes of bedrock from the Afon Mawddach etc. and that he wanted to run an objective story. Reassured, I invited him to look at my methods and set up a demo. Rather than have a chat first, he ambused me and took the pictures from a very misleading angle. You need to examine the actual scene, then you will see how misleading the pictures are.
Firstly, I am seen here digging in a natural valley, steep bedrock to one side and a loose, collapsing gravel bank on the other. The fallen tree bole had diverted the river to the other side, and this was eating into the riverbanks. I was only digging at most one or two feet to the bedrock which rises up. The angle of the pictures makes it seem as if I had dug many feet, and other pictures on another forum, taken from fifty feet above me, were similarly misinterpreted. How on earth can one guy dig such massive holes in a few days, by hand? If you go to the Wen bridge, you can still see the fallen tree bole, and the place I was digging looks perfectly natural. If the reporter had pictured the width of the whole river, this would have put my tiny dig in proper perspective.
My purpose was to demonstrate that the rumours about a ban on panning in the whole of North Wales, and the risk of unlimited fines just for panning, which isn't illegal, were false. I proved my case. The authorities sent in lab guys who carried out tests and found no evidence of any damage to anything. Moving rocks is not illegal in itself.
The reporters approach was extremely prejudical to leisure panning. Turns out the reporter was the press officer for two of my rivals, who were trying to open the mine. One of these rivals turned out to have a conviction in 2010 for a £43,000 fraud against his business partner and a series of customers, including old ladies. This guy was trying to con other panners, and chase them off the Wen and Mawddach with false stories about panning being banned. He was posing on other forums, to achieve this objective, and he tried to use me as a scapegoat. We have to stand up to conmen like this who try to use forums for devious purposes. I'll be happy to send the link to the Bournemouth Echo to anyone who wants proof.
I am sure that the Demotix reporter will want to disassociate himself from a convicted fraudster. A few have commented that he has served his time, so leave him alone. Well, it really isn't that simple. Once a conman always a conman, and he was probably looking for new victims. The plan to supposedly reopen the mine was in my estimation just a cover for duping the public into buying Welsh gold with no Welsh gold in it. They simply didn't have the possibly millions needed to properly open the mine, or the planning approval.


I'm also curious about Mr Wright claiming:
"I am the trustee of a registered charity, and my nuggets and gold flakes are put in trust, for charitable, educational and scientific purposes"
Yet Mr Wright has been stating on many Forums that he wants to make and sell Jewellery from Welsh Gold, though I see has has pulled several of his posts where he said that.
He stated on the Goldrefining Forum:

"I would welcome comments about whether our jewellery should contain 100% pure Welsh unrefined gold (including the other 33 elements), or if it should be fully refined and diluted to 18 or 9 ct. "

"I plan to make pure, unrefined Welsh gold jewellery."

So I see a contradiction somewhere.

No contradiction my friend. All profits, if I ever get any customers, will go to charitable and community purposes.
Can you say the same? Why are you so negative all the time. You should support Gold Rivers Trust in the campaign to protect panning from harassment by officials.
Brian Wright

Treasurer Gold Rivers Trust
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Re: Gold Panning ban in North Wales 7 years 11 months ago #2774

The last few post in this thread have been deleted for FORUM rules violations, and this thread is now locked.
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