THE Dartmoor Preservation Association, one of the organisations at the forefront of the campaign to reinstate the right to wild camp, has reacted to yesterday's ruling.
The organisation has been working to preserve the moor for over 100 years, this case being part of a long line of work.
The appeal was a reaction to an earlier legal battle between the Park Authority and Dartmoor landowner Alexander Darwall last winter, in which Darwall successfully convinced the court that the legal right to camp on the moor never actually existed, despite it being commonly believed that the right had been enshrined in Dartmoor’s byelaws since 1985.
After the Dartmoor National Park Authority decided to appeal the case in January, the DPA set up a fundraiser to help pay for legal costs, which raised over £60,000.
Tom Usher, CEO of the DPA, said: 'We are delighted with the court's decision today, it is the right and fair judgement for so many that love Dartmoor. It reaffirms that rights are more valuable than mere permissions.
'The DPA has a long and deep history on Dartmoor and we will continue to work with everyone on the moor to protect its rich archaeology, promote access for all, and care for the land. Together, we will preserve the beauty of Dartmoor for future generations, accessible and cherished by all.'
The DPA as an organisation also made a statement:
'The Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) is delighted with the outcome of Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA)’s legal appeal, which today has reinstated the right to backpack camp in Dartmoor National Park. This ruling marks a momentous victory, ensuring that the spirit of exploration and connection with the wilderness is preserved for generations to come.
'On July 18th, counsel for the Dartmoor National Park Authority, Timothy Straker KC, and for the Open Spaces Society, Richard Honey KC and Ned Westaway, acting pro bono, put forward many points to illustrate that open-air recreation does include the right to backpack camping. They also argued that the original ruling did not consider the vast amount of public interest in the issue.
'This case has been hard fought on behalf of the public for the past year. The DPA, along with a committed group of campaigners uniting under the #SaveDartmoor banner, has worked hard to advocate for the restoration of backpack camping rights. We are immensely proud of the role we, along with our partners, have played in convincing the National Park to pursue the appeal. We extend our gratitude to all who supported the National Park's efforts through our incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign. This collaborative achievement is a testament to the power of a united community dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and freedom that Dartmoor represents.
'With the reinstatement of backpack camping rights, we can now embrace a future where the National Park remains a sanctuary for explorers to pitch their tents, immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes, and forge a deeper connection with the natural world. This victory is a testament to the resilience and passion of all those who stood up, lending their voices and support to this vital cause.
'We would especially like to extend our respect and admiration to The Stars are for Everyone, for their powerful organisational energy. Their ability to mobilise the thousands of people and organisations affected by January’s ruling has been instrumental in achieving this significant milestone for backpack campers and nature enthusiasts alike. We would also like to thank the Open Spaces Society for intervening in the appeal, offering their invaluable knowledge and experience in the area of access legislation. This appeal has been won by the power of partnerships and collaboration.
'Perhaps most of all, we must offer our profound gratitude to the individuals, organisations and communities who have steadfastly supported us throughout this case, especially to those who donated to and shared our legal fundraiser. Your contribution has, in no small part, empowered the DNPA to proceed with the appeal. Your unwavering belief in the importance of preserving our natural heritage has been the driving force behind this achievement.
'For over 140 years, the Dartmoor Preservation Association has been at the forefront of efforts to protect and nurture the wildness of Dartmoor. Our unwavering commitment to keeping the moorlands untamed and untethered has guided our actions throughout the years. This ruling serves as a resounding validation of our tireless work, and we are grateful to see the restoration of backpack camping rights as a result.
'Congratulations to Dartmoor National Park Authority for a historic win on behalf of the public interest. As we celebrate this momentous occasion, the DPA recognises the responsibility that accompanies it. We remain dedicated to our ongoing work, ensuring that Dartmoor's natural splendour is safeguarded, cherished, and preserved for future generations.'