The right to wild camp on Dartmoor without the permission of the landowner has been overturned in the courts this morning.

Sir Julian Flaux, the chancellor of the high court, ruled: 'In my judgment, on the first issue set out at [14] above, the claimants are entitled to the declaration they seek that, on its true construction, section 10(1) of the 1985 Act does not confer on the public any right to pitch tents or otherwise make camp overnight on Dartmoor Commons. Any such camping requires the consent of the landowner.'

Dr Kevin Bishop, Chief Executive for the Dartmoor National Park Authority, said:

'We are really disappointed with the outcome but obviously respect the judgment. We will now consider our position carefully before deciding on whether to appeal, and on what grounds.

'We maintain that wild camping is an important form of open-air recreation and is a way to enjoy the special qualities of the National Park – for example the dark night skies, sense of wilderness and the tranquillity that can be derived from the commons of Dartmoor. Done properly, and with respect, it has little impact on the environment.

'We are keen to work with landowners and other stakeholders to see how we can sustain opportunities for people to wild camp on Dartmoor.'

A spokesperson for the Save Our Stars campaign, a group behind the opposition to the legal challenge, said: 'We are appalled by the outcome of this hearing - just the latest in a historical assault on public rights of access to the countryside - at a time when we desperately need more, not less time in nature.

'We will fight this outcome and support any appeal process which is made.

'In bringing this case, the Darwalls have done more to advance the cause of rights to nature than any campaign we could have planned - we will use this moment as a springboard to work to ensure future generations enjoy more, not less access to the countryside.'

Rob Macfarlan, author, campaigner and Cambridge professor, said: 'This morning the High Court ruled to extinguish the people’s long-exercised, life-changing right to wild camp responsibly on Dartmoor, the only place in England, where you can—could—sleep under the stars without asking the landowner’s permission.

'The case to illegalise wild camping was brought by a hedge-fund manager, Alexander Darwall, who runs pheasant shoots and deer stalking on his 4000-acre Dartmoor Estate.

'It’s an appalling decision, and a further foreclosure of the already heavily restrictive English access regulation.'

Read more about the court case below, with updates to follow.