Dartmoor National Park Authority considers wild camping ban appeal

Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) has said it has been given the go-ahead to appeal a ruling which prohibits wild camping.

It follows a High Court decision in January that said campers would need landowners’ permission.

Alexander and Diana Darwall, who brought the case, said the ruling was “no threat to true wild camping”.

But the DNPA said it was “pleased” to be granted leave to appeal and would now decide whether to proceed.

It would be discussed at a meeting of its members on 14 April, it said.

Young couple hold a sign that says "Dartmoor is Our Moor"
Image caption,

Protesters walked to Stall Moor to argue for the right to wild camp

A statement added: “Notwithstanding the ongoing legal proceedings, the authority remains committed to working in partnership with landowners and others to ensure a permissive approach to backpack camping is successful.”

It said its vision was to “provide opportunities for all parts of society to enjoy Dartmoor National Park”.

The national park, designated in 1951, covers a 368-square mile area that features “commons”, which are areas of unenclosed privately-owned moorland where locals can put livestock.

DNPA had argued at the High Court that wild camping was a local custom and the couple’s claim was an “attack” on a “long-established practice of great importance”.

But Mr and Mrs Darwall, who keep cattle on their 3,450-acre estate, claimed some campers caused problems to livestock and the environment.

People walk on road holding signs
Image caption,

A protest march in January stretched for nearly a mile as people chanted for the right to access the moor

Their argument secured a finding from a judge that a 1985 law that regulates access to moorlands does not provide a right to wild camp.

Before this judgement there was an assumed right that people could camp without landowners’ permission.

Campers are now restricted to specific areas, marked on an interactive map published on the park authority’s website.

Sir Julian Flaux said his ruling would mean that “DNPA and all walkers and riders on the commons know where they stand and what rights they have”.

After the ruling, thousands of protesters gathered on Dartmoor calling for it to be overturned.

Campaign group Right to Roam said campers had lost 18% of available land as a result and walking charity, the Ramblers, said the ruling was “a huge step backward for the right of everyone to access nature”.

Related Articles

Back to top button