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Dartmoor wild camping appeal won

Stuart France

Active member
I think all of the above comments after the moderator's intervention concerning off-topic material are broadly correct. Unfortunately what he was hoping for, i.e. that planning authorities could somehow use new byelaws to create or extend or determine definitely that a public right exists where certain others are arguing that such does not exist, is simply not permitted.

Section 17 of the CROW Act sets out how planning/local authorities can pass byelaws to modify the default operation of Access Land. What they can do by way of new byelaws is limited to 3 categories, and all of them are to apply new restrictions not to liberalise anything:
1) for the preservation of order
2) for the prevention of damage to the land or anything on or in it
3) for securing that persons exercising [their access] right so behave themselves as to avoid undue interference with the enjoyment of the land by other persons.

I know that CROW does not apply in Scotland, but in effect what the Loch Lomond and Trossachs NPA did by curtailing camping in certain hot spots on a seasonal basis must fall under the Scottish equivalent of (3) at the very least.

Stuart France

Active member
It looks like this thread has come to an end so I’m surprised nobody mentioned the Dartmoor Commons Byelaws, the review of which gave the Claimants the foothold they needed to bring their case to prevent future camping. These are the byelaws which forbid camping on Dartmoor within 100 yards of a public road, for more than 2 nights at the same place, and so forth, to address local issues.

I’m also surprised that nobody mentioned, let alone spelled out, the caving-relevant content of the Appeal Court Judgment and the Skeleton Argument supporting the Open Spaces Society’s dramatic intervention in this case to take it to appeal and win it. Both these are required reading for all on BCA Council, and it goes without saying for the attention of Defra and Natural Resources Wales also.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, said:
- “open-air” seems to me fairly clearly to refer to the outside air and to something done outside a building or structure”,
- the fact that a tent is closed rather than open cannot convert camping from being an open-air recreation into not being one.

Lord Justice Underhill, VP of the Court of Appeal, said:
- [the argument] that open-air recreation is … no more than being in the open air … takes too narrowly literal an approach to the structure and language of [the legislation],
- the “right of access for the purpose of open-air recreation” [is] not merely the right of access but a positive right to engage in the open-air recreation for the purpose of which the right of access is granted,
- I do not think it likely that Parliament can have intended to create so uncertain a situation. It is in my view more likely that Parliament’s intention was to confer a general right to engage in open-air recreation,
- camping overnight in a place which is not a dedicated campsite falls within the definition of “open-air recreation” … in my opinion it plainly does… It is a perfectly natural use of language to describe that as a recreation, and also as occurring in the open air, notwithstanding that while the camper is actually in the tent the outside air will be to some extent excluded.