The launch of a new wild camping website with support from Defra (UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and two National Parks allowing anyone to ‘book a spot’ in a remote area for a fee and experience ‘wild camping’ was seen in late May 2019. The idea has been met with anger and negativity from across the outdoor community and the website content has since been removed.
The BMC believes that wild camping should encompass the freedom to choose where to camp, without any regulations, to be self-sufficient and to do so in a discreet and responsible manner, in wild places away from civilisation. In Scotland this is permitted under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, but in England and Wales it is not considered legal unless the permission of the landowner is obtained. However, there are some parts of England where wild camping is either legal (e.g. Dartmoor) or generally accepted (the Lake District), and many people wild camp discreetly in our hills and mountains, following a strict 'leave no trace' ethic. This appears to function well in practice. In the BMC’s opinion, asking for payment in return for ‘exclusive rights’ to camp in a specified area is not wild camping.
The BMC is disappointed not to have been consulted over the Defra backed pilot scheme or to have been included in discussions with the group responsible for the website as they developed their ideas and thinking. We are keen to meet with the group responsible to find common ground and discuss a way forward.
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