Dartmoor – what does the future hold for the national park?

Photo by Anthea Simmons

On Friday 14 July at 19:15, we will be hosting a panel event to be live-streamed from the Byline Festival, which is being held for the first time at Dartington Hall. The theme? Dartmoor’s future from political, agricultural, societal and environmental perspectives.

Your panel for the evening:

  • Caroline Voaden: the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Totnes (South Devon) Constituency. Formerly an MEP and the party’s leader in the European Parliament, Caroline has also had senior roles in charities and as a journalist. She grew up in Scotland and now lives in Totnes with her family, and is passionate about the benefits to both physical and mental health of nature and the wild outdoors.
  • Nick Viney: artist, regenerative farmer, Dartmoor range clearer, environmental campaigner and now councillor for the Burrator ward of West Devon.
  • Tony Whitehead: Dartmoor based independent environmental campaigner with a passion for a better deal for nature in the National Park. He is the author of several well read articles* about the state of wildlife on Dartmoor and the uneasy balance between farming and nature restoration. Twitter @tonydartmoor.

The debate will be chaired by Anthea Simmons, editor-in-chief of West Country Voices. Anthea is the author of a number of children’s books, including a novel featuring young climate emergency activists (Burning Sunlight) and an upcoming book (Aug 2024) with a strong Dartmoor/rewilding theme. Anthea lives in Ashburton and is in love with the moor and its big, beautiful skies.

If you wish to ask the panel a question, please email editor@westcountryvoices.co.uk. We will need your questions before noon on Friday 14 July.

Tickets for the festival are sold out, but the event will be live-streamed and this article will be updated with details on how to watch. We will also upload to YouTube for those who cannot make that time slot.

This timely debate comes ahead of the appeal on 18 July in the High Court against the removal of the right to wild camp.

Join The Stars Are For Everyone and Right to Roam for a rally outside the Royal Courts of Justice as the appeal is heard determining whether wild camping will continue as a right in Dartmoor National Park.

For decades Dartmoor National Park has been the only place in England where wild camping is legally permitted. But that right was overturned by a high court ruling in January this year, leaving a flimsy and fragile permissive scheme in it’s place. This July, the High Court will hear Dartmoor National Park Authorities appeal against this regressive ruling.

We will rally outside the court in defiance of this attempt by wealthy landowners to restrict rights long enjoyed by everyone. Come and join us in support of the appeal, contribute your own ideas about ‘what if’ wild camping was extended to other parts of the UK as part of an English Land Reform Act – and what we can learn from countries which have done this, such as Scotland.

Camping on Dartmoor is a rite of passage for young people taking part in expeditions such as Ten Tors and Duke of Edinburgh, as well as offering unique and life-shaping experiences for individuals and families – enjoyed for generations.

Since the January ruling, public support for greater public access to the countryside – including camping – has skyrocketed. We will rally outside the high court to appeal the ruling – but also to extend and strengthen our rights of access in England.

Join us on the 18th of July!

Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2L

What three words: ///flash.person.risen

What to Bring, What to Wear:

Come in your finest DoE / wild camper / outdoor enthusiast chic. Dress as the stars and the elements. Arrive as granite, leave as a moor. Present yourself however you like to be outdoors in the natural world!

*You can read a number of articles by Tony Whitehead here.