Dartmoor backpack-camping case is to go to Supreme Court 

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We are deeply dismayed that the Supreme Court has granted the Dartmoor landowners, Alexander and Diana Darwall, leave to appeal in the Dartmoor backpack-camping case. 

We’re deeply dismayed that leave to appeal has been granted. Photo: Andrew Bowden

The society intervened in support of the Dartmoor National Park Authority in the Court of Appeal, and it was delighted when that court ruled that the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 gave the public the right to camp on all the Dartmoor commons.  Now the matter will return to the higher court for a further round of debate and a final judgment. 

The Darwalls, who own Stall Moor common on south-west Dartmoor, argued that the right granted to the public on foot and horseback on the Dartmoor commons, for the purpose of open-air recreation, did not include the right to camp (section 10 of the 1985 Act). In the Court of Appeal it was held that the wording of section 10 ‘confers on members of the public the right to rest or sleep on the Dartmoor commons whether by day or night and whether in a tent or otherwise’. 

The Open Spaces Society will once again apply to intervene in support of the Dartmoor National Park Authority in the Supreme Court. 

Says our general secretary Kate Ashbrook: ‘We are deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has granted the Darwalls leave to appeal.  We firmly believe that the legal arguments are clear, that there is a right to backpack camping on the Dartmoor commons.  However, we shall fight on, and shall give our support to the Dartmoor National Park Authority in this important case, to prove again, beyond all doubt, that there is such a right’. 

Last autumn, we began an appeal to help support our legal fund with cases such as these, as we protect the open spaces which mean so much to so many. Find out more about our appeal here. 

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