Dartmoor wild camping appeal decision deferred

  • Contributor information: CNP

The High Court appeal hearing on the right to wild camp in Dartmoor National Park (Darwall & anr v Dartmoor National Park Authority) has drawn to a close on 18 July with a decision left pending and campaigners likely to wait another few months for a final result.

The deferred decision leaves us to reflect on a campaign which has inspired one of the largest right to roam demonstrations in years, with huge amounts of passion and nationwide interest in the subject brought to bear.

The Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Open Spaces Society put the appeal case to the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Newey in an all-day court hearing, which was only made possible by crowd-funded donations on behalf of the National Park Authority, who were granted the right to appeal January’s original decision.

Whilst the case was heard inside, Campaign for National Parks gathered outside the court alongside other passionate campaigners to hear from speakers and share stories of wild camping in Dartmoor National Park.

At Campaign for National Parks we want to see wilder National Parks for all, and the right to wild camp is an important part of this ambition, inspiring future generations to fully immerse themselves in the wild, making the most of outdoor recreation as a tool for health, well-being and the appreciation of our natural world.

Wild camping has a long-practised leave-no-trace tradition, but the lack of legal clarity on the issue remains a barrier to many. This case highlights how precarious our right to access nature is, and how expanding responsible access to our most treasured landscapes remains vitally important.

We believe that the creation of a rights-based approach to wild camping in National Parks is possible, and this is now an opportune time to trial further wild camping in more National Parks alongside a responsible access code of conduct and additional ranger and educational resources.

Whilst so many other prescient issues vie for attention, we recognise that the right to wild camp may not be the number one priority for National Parks right now, however, access to National Parks remains a vitally important issue which needs careful and considered attention and we believe wholeheartedly in encouraging more people to respectfully interact with our nationally protected landscapes.

We await the final decision with interest.