Right to Wild Camp on Dartmoor
By Will Aczel, Exeter Lib Dems
Originally published by Exeter Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrats from across Devon joined over 3,000 people for the right to wild camp on Dartmoor protest last Saturday.
It follows a ruling by the High Court that took away right to wild camp on the moor that had been assumed for generations. The case was brought by a former hedgefund manager turned large estate owner, which includes a significant proportion of Dartmoor common land. Dartmoor National Park fought against the ruling and are expected to come to decision over whether to appeal this Friday.
In the meantime, a deal has been struck for landowners to be paid extra public money in exchange for their permission. This puts too much power in the hands of owners of common land, already reduces the land available to camp on and this could be further eroded year after year.
The right to wild camp provides great value to Dartmoor locals and visitors of all ages and incomes. From DofE and Ten Tors expeditions, from watching birds to watching shooting stars, it is shown to have significant educational, nature connectedness, physical health, and mental wellbeing benefits.
This issue is not about littering or ecological concerns because, not only is littering already illegal, the vast majority of wild campers respect the Countryside Code and 'leave no trace'. Whereas, the same cannot be said for the landowner.
Richard Foord MP is leading the way raising the issue in parliament and submitting an Early Day Motion. Liberal Democrats are submitting council motions across the county in favour of restoring the right to wild camp. This reaffirms our Liberal values in the right to respectfully enjoy our countryside: expanding access to our Great British Countryside for the benefit of all.