Latest News

We free Cornish footpath from illegal obstruction

August 31, 2023

Through threat of legal action, we have achieved the removal of several illegal obstructions on a public footpath at St Ervan, three miles south-west of Padstow.  Lucy Wilson, our local correspondent for North Cornwall, threatened to go to court for the removal of two unlawful gates on St Ervan footpath 16, south of Treglinnick Farm. …

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Right to backpack camp on Dartmoor’s commons confirmed by appeal court

July 31, 2023

We are delighted that three judges in the court of appeal have unanimously overturned the high court ruling and resolved that there is a right to backpack (wild) camp on Dartmoor’s common land. The full judgment can be read here. The society intervened in the court of appeal to support the Dartmoor National Park Authority…

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Brat Tor and Great Links, Dartmoor Photo: Open Spaces Society

An update on the Dartmoor backpack-camping appeal

July 24, 2023

The court of appeal hearing of Dartmoor National Park Authority and Open Spaces Society v Darwall was on 18 July, and can be watched here. Our aim was to overturn the ruling of Sir Julian Flaux in the high court in January that the term ‘open-air recreation’ in section 10 of the Dartmoor Commons Act…

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Common land restored: ‘The Bunny Hill’ in Cornwall

June 1, 2023

We are delighted by the planning inspectorate’s decision to grant the society’s application to register as common land 3.86 hectares of land at The Bunny Hill and part of Fentongoose Common. The land is situated approximately four kilometres south-west of Truro in Cornwall, and north-west of Carrine Common.  The land comprises trees interspersed with scrub…

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Brat Tor and Great Links, Dartmoor Photo: Open Spaces Society

Dartmoor backpack camping: we join case in court of appeal

May 23, 2023

Update July 2023: the appeal was heard on July 18 2023. A summary and link to watch can be found here. Update June 2023: the society has submitted to the court a witness statement, made by case officer Hugh Craddock, and the society’s skeleton argument, courtesy of Richard Honey KC, Ned Westaway and Esther Drabkin-Reiter,…

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Brat Tor and Great Links, Dartmoor Photo: Open Spaces Society

Backpack camping: Dartmoor National Park Authority to appeal

April 14, 2023

We are delighted that the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) members have unanimously agreed to appeal against the high court judgment on the Dartmoor backpack camping case.  The owners of Stall Moor common. Alexander and Diana Darwall, challenged the DNPA’s argument that the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985, in giving the public the right to walk…

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Better access to popular path on Purbeck coast

March 3, 2023

Harry Alexander, one of our local correspondents, has persuaded Dorset Council to install an accessible gate on a popular path between Worth Matravers and the South West Coast Path, between Chapman’s Pool and St Aldhelm’s Head. The new gate opens up the obstructed path, which was blocked by a difficult stile, and a padlocked gate…

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Café plans for Bristol Downs abandoned

March 2, 2023

We have welcomed the decision to abandon plans for a café on the downs in Bristol close to the Avon Gorge.  The society criticised the Downs Committee[1] , which put forward the plans, for squandering public money on unlawful and undesirable projects.  Meanwhile the committee is failing adequately to carry out its statutory responsibilities. The Downs…

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No backtrack on backpack camping on Dartmoor commons

January 27, 2023

We are delighted that the Dartmoor National Park Authority has agreed unanimously to seek leave to appeal against the High Court judgment of 13 January; this ruled that there is no right to wild (backpack) camping on the Dartmoor commons. Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We have always understood that the Dartmoor Commons Act…

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Our new watchdog in west Dorset

January 24, 2023

We have appointed Nicholas Whitsun-Jones as our local correspondent for the former West Dorset District. Nicholas was in the legal profession for 45 years, specialising in planning and environmental law, including rights of way.  Since retirement he has done voluntary work for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in Somerset and Devon, and now…

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