Are you a camper? If so, you may well have gone to Dartmoor, the only place in England and Wales where people can legally wild camp (i.e. outside of campsites) in designated areas without obtaining permission. But that could soon all change.
That’s because some landowners, including Alexander Darwall, a fund manager who bought a plot of land with his wife in 2011, are contesting the bylaws under the Dartmoor Commons Act which enshrine the right to roam and camp across the 4,000-acre site.
Under these laws, people have been able to camp in the area for the past 100 years. But Darwall claims that campers have been leaving the site worse off, littering, lighting fires, poaching fish and causing noise pollution.
Darwall says he isn’t seeking to end camping for good but rather change the law so that campers are required to get the permission of landowners before embarking on their adventures.
Right-to-roam activists, however, say this will make getting access to nature harder, as many won’t know how to obtain permission, could be turned down or asked to offer a profit to landowners.
Darwall has found support in other landowners, including John Howard Howell, who chairs the Dartmoor Commons Owners Association and whose family owns nearly 2,000 acres of land in the area. Dartmoor national park is opposing their claims in the high court.