Anyone who has visited Dartmoor knows it’s a place with wild character, spectacular landscapes, sometimes savage weather and long history that sets it apart from other parts of the UK. A public consultation is currently in progress around proposed changes to Dartmoor’s Byelaws which aim to protect the special qualities of the National Park. The BMC has responded to this consultation but why is it needed, what could change and what have we said? Read on to find out more…
Being one of the first National Parks designated back in 1951, tomorrow – 30th October 2021 – marks the 70th anniversary of Dartmoor’s National Park status. An important part of what makes Dartmoor special are its byelaws, which are designed to protect the special qualities of the National Park. Amongst other things, but of significant interest to BMC members, the byelaws legally allow wild camping on parts of the moor which are common land. This is an unusual and very welcome peculiarity, with nowhere else in England having a legal right to wild camp without permission from the landowner. Sure, in many places wild camping is tolerated, but tolerance is quite different from a legal right and that’s just one reason why Dartmoor is special.
The current set of byelaws were adopted in 1989, so much has changed in society in the intervening years. As a result, the Dartmoor National Park Authority are proposing to update the byelaws in order to address current issues resulting from a small but impactful minority of visitors who do not look after the National Park. Of particular interest to BMC members are changes affecting parking, wild camping, fires and commercial activities.
Following discussion with key local experienced BMC volunteers, the BMC’s SW Area meeting and a number of other BMC members with interest and experience of Dartmoor, we have submitted a response to the public consultation. Whilst in general, the BMC is supportive of Dartmoor National Park Authority’s overall aims (i.e. to stop damaging behaviour), we do have concerns about some aspects of the proposed changes which we believe could have the unintended consequence of impacting upon responsible users of Dartmoor. Our full response to the consultation can be found here.
Want to know more or get involved?
The public consultation closes on Monday 1st November. Full details of the proposed changes can be found on the Dartmoor National Park Authority website.
If you would like to respond to the consultation with your own views click here to access the survey.
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