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Fined gold panner said he wanted to donate his haul to the ‘next Prince of Wales’

29 May 2022 3 minutes Read
Panning for Gold by seefit is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A man from Henley-on-Thames who has been prosecuted for panning for gold in Snowdonia said he was planning to gift any gold he found to the ‘next Prince of Wales’.

Brian Wright was ordered by a court to pay £3000 in the first case of its kind said gold panning was part of Wales’ heritage, and that he hoped any gold he found could be turned into a coronet for the royal collection.

Mr Wright was filmed panning for gold in the Afon Wen in Snowdonia last year by two officers from Natural Resources Wales and subsequently found guilty of three offences of digging up or removing gravel, sands or minerals and operating a metal detector on the land of the forestry authority.

Natural Resources Wales says the practice of digging up gravel on the riverbed with a trowel and looking for flecks of gold, damages salmon spawning beds in the river.

But Mr Wright says the ruling infringes on his ‘freedoms of the forest’ and will simply drive the practice underground, adding that the regulations had been misinterpreted by the environmental authority and that the forestry bylaws did not apply in the river.

He suggests that the forestry activity causes more harm to the environment, while other panners have said that the effects of panning are negligible compared to the pollution caused by agriculture.

Freedoms

Speaking after the case, Mr Wright, a former council rights-of-way officer said: “All our freedoms are being removed. The freedoms of the forest – they even stop local people from gathering firewood – if they catch them.

“They’re picking on me as an example, because they know all the other gold panners know me. Now they’ve got this – I’ve done them a favour because they might be able to go after other people on this basis.”

There are several areas around Wales which are likely to yield gold with panning, including Dolgellau, Dolaucothi and parts of Anglesey and Pembrokeshire.

However, according to the UK Government, gold and silver are classed as ‘Mines Royal’, meaning that in most cases they belong to the Crown.

Permission must be sought from The Crown Estate to take away gold found or discovered, by any method, permission to take it away is unlikely to be granted.

The largest piece of gold Mr Wright found is five grams, smaller than a five pence piece.

Speaking after the case, Mr Wright told the Daily Telegraph: “They know that we know that we are not the polluters. It’s the forestry which over the long term has destroyed the natural habitat.”

Dylan Williams, NRW operations manager for the North West, said: “The location where Mr Wright was caught gold panning is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation indicating its high conservation value and susceptibility to any damaging activities

“Illegal gold panning has the potential to adversely impact the river ecosystem. The process of digging up of the riverbed and bank can result in direct damage to plants or invertebrates and fish spawning grounds can be damaged. The flow of the river can also be altered.”

Mr Wright was ordered to pay a fine of £600 and costs of £2,400. NRW had sought costs of £9,550.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Here’s a case for control of the Crown Estates. I understand that the environmental concerns are a part this but as far as I’m concerned, if you find gold in Wales, it stays in Wales along with all the other wealth being robbed from under noses and feet.

Welshman Tomos
Welshman Tomos
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

I’m Welsh, my grandparents were Welsh and their parents before them and so on….Now, the Queen isn’t Welsh, never has been and never will but if I find gold in the soil where my ancestors have been buried for hundreds if not thousands of years I’d end up with a fine….but the Queen being of German blood has it all. Hmm let me think about this.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

Foreigner stealing a nations natural resources for a foreign monarch.

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
1 month ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

There’s a law against that … 😉

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
1 month ago

Where to start?   Mr Wright (who henceforth should be known as Mr Wrong) asserts the following:   That his rights to ‘freedom of the forests’ have been infringed as per the Charter of the Forest 1217.   Yet …   1 This law applied [past tense] to England only; Cymru being an independent country at the time.   2 The key concessions in the charter were granted [past tense] to “free men”, and thus deliberately excluded the unfree, who formed a large proportion of the population.    Why the use of ‘[past tense]’ above?   3 The Charter was… Read more »

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

Welsh gold belongs to Wales and that will be the case after Independence 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 YES CYMRU

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

And if you believe that story, I’m working 9 to 5 to council & support Mickey Mouse’s through his Angel Delight habit.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
1 month ago

Utter clown.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 month ago

He’s labouring under the illusion that he’s a “rugged individualist” rather than a trespasser and thief from Surrey. Each time he opens his mouth, it becomes yet more apparent that he hasn’t got a clue what Wales is all about.

Andrew Redman
Andrew Redman
1 month ago

A SSSi site? NRW is being somewhat selective. When they were informed about the total destruction of a SSSi /SAC site in Carmarthenshire they did nothing. No prosecution. The Council should have issued a “Stop Notice” straight away but failed to. Some consistency is required in their pronouncements before all faith in them is lost, to the detriment of the one thing they are supposed to protect.

G Horton-Jones
G Horton-Jones
1 month ago

This is truly insane on all levels
NRW has no remit to be a colonial enforcer for the English Crown and are no living on borrowed time in our country Wales

Welshman Tomos
Welshman Tomos
1 month ago

England will never be independant until we Welsh are independent. The UK isn’t England and never was. Welsh gold belongs to Wales.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago

Why would he want to give anything to the so called Prince of Wales?

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

Is there no end to the entitlement and colonialism displayed by these people? And don’t get me started on the Crown Estates!

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

The last Prince of Wales died in the early 1400s!

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