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Mine openings ‘should be fenced off’ in Cornwall

Andrew Williams and mine opening

Andrew Williams fell down a hole around 50m inside an opening to the Wheal Hermon mine

Andrew Williams is still recovering after a six-hour rescue operation near St Just, Cornwall on 24 September.

Experts say there are hundreds of historic mines in the county and many are easily accessible.

Cornwall Council says it is working with landowners, the National Trust to secure “potentially dangerous” sites.

Mr Williams, 51, who lives near Penarth in Wales, said: “There were no barriers at all, and no obvious signs to show danger.

“I absolutely think more should be done to either stop people getting in, or make them know in no uncertain terms that going in there risks death. And not just there, but anywhere similar.”

The Wheal Hermon mine where he fell has an opening located close to a coastal path.

MineImage copyright: CORNWALL SEARCH AND RESCUE

Rescuers brought Mr Williams to safety through a narrow “hourglass” gap

Mining expert Allen Buckley said: “There are hundreds of abandoned mines in Cornwall, and scores of them can just be walked into. People need to take personal responsibility and be careful.”

Local authorities have powers to enforce landowners to fence off mine openings, through Section 151 of the Mines and Quarries Act.

Cornwall Council says it is working to ensure the entrance “where the accident occurred is secured”.

The National Trust added: “We manage any potential risk of harm to our visitors through a mixture of signage and fencing, asking walkers to keep to the footpaths where applicable.

“We regularly review our health and safety policies and practices to ensure that we are doing everything we reasonably can to ensure the safety of the public.”

Mr Williams, a breakdown recovery driver, is out of hospital but faces a lengthy recovery from pelvis and leg injuries, as well as the psychological impact of the experience.

He said: “If one good thing has come out of this, hopefully it will stop it happening to somebody else.”

Source: BBC News

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