Tuesday 18 July 2023
By appellant’s notice filed on 7 February 2023 the Defendant Park Authority appeal the Order of the Chancellor of the High Court dated 13 January 2023 in which he declared that section 10(1) of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 did not confer on the public any right to pitch tents or otherwise make camp overnight on Dartmoor Commons and that such camping required the landowner’s consent.
Background – The principal issue in this case is whether section 10(1) of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 (“the 1985 Act”) confers on the public a right not only to walk or ride a horse on the commons but also to camp there overnight.
The Claimants are farmers, landowners and commoners who have owned and lived at Blachford Manor, an estate on Dartmoor, since 2013. Part of the estate’s farm includes Stall Moor, an extensive area of open land in a remote section of the Commons, where the Claimants keep their cattle, lambs and fallow deer. Camping on the common is regulated by bylaws promulgated by Devon County Council in 1989 prohibiting camping in places other than designated sites. In 2021 the Park Authority consulted the public regarding proposed amendments to the bylaws and the Claimants became concerned about the potential harm of camping, especially ‘wild camping’ or ‘backpacking’, on the Commons near Stall Moor. The Claimants commenced a claim under CPR Part 8, seeking a declaration that section 10(1) does not grant the public a right to camp on the Commons.