True wild camping on Dartmoor not threatened say landowners

Landowners at the centre of a row over the future of wild camping on Dartmoor have said it is “perfectly understandable” that people are upset.

A High Court judge ruled on 13 January that wild camping without permission was not allowed.

Alexander Darwall and his wife Diana, who brought the case, said it was “very regrettable that this has caused unnecessary worry”.

Dartmoor National Park Authority is considering an appeal.

Thousands of protesters gathered on Dartmoor on Saturday calling for the ruling to be overturned.

Ten Tors
Image caption,

The Darwalls said they expected a final agreement would allow activities such as the Ten Tors challenge for young people to continue

Before the judgment there was an assumed right that people could camp without landowners’ permission.

They will now be restricted to specific areas, marked on an interactive map published on the park authority’s website.

Mr Darwall, a hedge fund manager, and his wife, who have owned 4,000 acres (16 sq km) on southern Dartmoor since 2013, said in a statement: “The truth is that there is no threat to access or true wild camping.

“Dartmoor is increasingly under pressure from fly campers, litter, raves and so on – a small number of people who spoil it for everyone.

“We want to keep Dartmoor unspoilt with the principle of leave no trace.

“We also have legal and environmental responsibilities which we take seriously.

“We wanted improved cooperation and understanding with the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA).

“We are now in a much better place to cooperate and work with the DNPA in a positive way for the best outcome for everyone.”

Crowd of people stand in the middle of a square holding signs and banners
Image caption,

Protesters gathered in the main square of Cornwood village before marching to the moor

An “agreement in principle” was made after the judgment between the DNPA and landowners, which brought in a fee payable to landowners by the park authority for allowing wild camping.

According to campaigners it also reduced the land available to wild campers by more than 12,000 acres (49 sq km).

“We expect the final agreement to be finalised very soon so that organised camping like Ten Tors and Duke of Edinburgh’s awards, and individual wild campers can continue,” said the Darwalls.

They added: “It is perfectly understandable that people have been upset about the perceived threat to wild camping on Dartmoor.

“And it is very regrettable that this has caused unnecessary worry.”

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