POPULAR BBC show Countryfile saw a significant backlash from the local hiking community, after their latest programme looking at Dartmoor was branded ‘biased’ and a ‘mouthpiece’.

The show looked at the recent high court ruling that ended the legal right to wild camp on the moor without any consent from the landowner. Presenter Charlotte Smith met up with Mr John Howell, owner of a 1,000-acre estate including Harford Moor and Higher Piles. Mr Howell showed the issues that he had faced on his land, such as fires, tree felling, litter and noise. At one point, Mr Howell said: ‘There'll be excrement and used toilet paper and so on just lying on the rocks, in amongst the mosses, sleeping bags full of vomit.’

Although the programme did air the views of camping activist Lewis Winks and members of the DNPA, the programme was perceived to be one-sided by many on Dartmoor and in the wider hiking community.

One viewer commented on how a single act of so-called ‘fly camping’ was portrayed: ‘The article reports the public frustration with the Countryfile and presenter accurately, but reports all the landowner's claims as facts, with no context such as over what period of time the branches and stones had been moved.’

Another local viewer agreed, saying: ‘They made an attempt at being even-handed, but really got it wrong. Bit of an own goal for them really.’

Another wrote: ‘Looks like BBC Countryfile program has exampled the wealthy landowners and right-wing political viewpoint without taking a balanced view of the majority of countryside loving people.’

One other viewer pointed out contradictions in the environmental argument for banning camping: ‘Absolutely disgusting to blame people camping in the countryside for environmental pollution when shooting estates are responsible for wiping out whole ecosystems through their release of Pheasants! Eating baby snakes and amphibians as well as invertebrates these birds are destroying our wildlife. Not to mention the lead shot scattered all over the ground which will poison more ecosystems.’

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