Dartmoor National Park Authority has said it is ‘delighted’ after the Court of Appeal ruled in its favour in a landmark case centred around people’s right to backpack camp on the commons.
The Authority has also reiterated its commitment to working with commoners and landowners to ensure that people continue to backpack responsibly in certain areas and leave no trace of their visit.
The legal proceedings concerned the legal meaning of wording in the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 in the case of Darwall vs Dartmoor National Park Authority.
The case was heard in the Court of Appeal on July 18 before the Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice Sir Geoffrey Vos, Lord Justice Underhill the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal Civil Division, and Lord Justice Newey.
Pamela Woods, Chair of Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted with the Court of Appeal’s conclusions in this landmark case.
“We firmly believed the legislation which formed the focus of this case – the Dartmoor Commons Act – allowed for backpack camping on certain areas of common land as a form of open-air recreation without the need to get landowners permission first.
“We are pleased that it was a unanimous verdict from the three judges who heard the case.”
Dr Kevin Bishop, Chief Executive/National Park Officer for Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: “Today’s judgment is a re-affirmation of the right to backpack camp on Dartmoor and secures that right for today and future generations. This means people can experience the joys of backpack camping on Dartmoor, provided everyone follows the leave no trace principle and, critically, only camp in the areas that are identified in the online backpack camping map that is on the Authority’s website.
“We have sought to defend the public’s right to enjoy the National Park though this case. It is equally important that those exercising that right recognise that they have a responsibility to help look after the National Park – we want people from all parts of our society to enjoy Dartmoor responsibly and with respect to landowners, farmers and local communities.
“We would like to thank the huge numbers of people who have supported us publicly and privately including the Open Spaces Society who were an interested party in this case.
“Our sincere hope is that this Judgment means we can now move forward, in partnership, with a focus on making sure Dartmoor remains a special place for all to enjoy.”
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