Dartmoor Park fights back against ‘selfish’ attempt by landowner to ban wild camping

Reasons why the UK could face a summer of travel misery

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Currently Dartmoor National Park is one of the only places in England where people are permitted to wild camp. Campers must take all their litter and vow to leave no trace.

Alexander Darwall and his wife Diana own 2,784 acres of land in south Dartmoor, according to a report in The Guardian.

The pair have now launched a legal challenge questioning whether people have the right to wild camp on Dartmoor.

In the legal documents, the couple claim: “There is an additional requirement that the camping regulated by the defendant [the park authority] must only take place in areas where the landowners consent and subject to whatever additional conditions and requirements the landowners may stipulate in return for their consent.”

Kevin Bishop, the park’s chief executive, told The Guardian that the authority would not bow to pressure to ban wild camping.

In a statement, Dartmoor National Park said to Express.co.uk: “Stall Moor on Dartmoor is registered common land and one of the areas where you can wild camp.  A right that has been enjoyed for many years.

“The owners of Stall Moor have issued a claim in the High Court for a “declaration” that section 10 of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 Act does not authorise wild camping, but only recreation “on the move”. 

“The National Park Authority is defending this claim. Section 10 of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 grants the public “a right of access” to the commons “on foot and on horseback for the purpose of open-air recreation.

“The Act also gave the National Park Authority the right to make byelaws to control recreation on the commons. 

“National Parks exist to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of their special qualities. Wild camping is a form of outdoor recreation which promotes that, and section 10 should be interpreted as authorising that activity. 

“Wild or backpack camping is as it sounds – carrying all you need in a rucksack and camping ‘off grid’ without any of the facilities of formal pitches etc. You can backpack camp for one or two nights on some commons well away from roads, individual buildings or settlements using a ‘no impact’ approach, following the backpack camping code.

“People can plan long walking routes that will involve an overnight wild camp as part of this, taking care to leave no trace. Wild camping enables walkers to explore, and experience to the full, wild and remote corners of the National Park, which they simply could not do if restricted to day trips and formal camp sites.

“Wild camping as part of a long walking expedition has always been a key part of how people enjoy Dartmoor and is an important part of challenge events like Ten Tors. The National Park Authority believe that a challenge in respect of section 10 of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 is incorrect, has been made far too late, and should be dismissed.”

A spokesperson for the Darwalls told The Guardian the claim was: “Just asking the Dartmoor National Park Authority to cooperate with those who are responsible for looking after the land and the environment.”

They added: “I am sure that in all circumstances wild camping could continue on Dartmoor, though it depends in part on the DNPA.”

The claim caused controversy online as wild campers reacted to the threat of a ban on Dartmoor.

Ian Acheson tweeted: “I’m one of thousands of people who wild camp responsibly every year in southern England’s last wilderness.

“We’ll be damned if we’ll let some selfish hedge fund manager take away those rights.”

Madeleine Worral tweeted: “At a time of raging inequality, what a loathsome legal challenge. More money than sense.”

Lewis Winks tweeted: “Wild camping on Dartmoor offers a quality of time spent outdoors in ways otherwise off limits elsewhere.

“It’s vital that we defend these bylaws and seek to expand, not diminish, public access to nature and a right to roam.”

The Dartmoor Preservation Authority tweeted: “This case is almost unbelievable at a time when the benefits from time spent outside enjoying nature are more important than ever before.

“The DPA has been providing information to help the Dartmoor National Park Authority fight this case.”

For many campers, Dartmoor is special as it is one of the only places in England where it’s possible to camp off grid.

Source: Read Full Article