National Park Byelaw Proposals

May 23, 2023 |
HHW - Ross Barrett

November 2021-

Dartmoor Preservation Association Critiques National Park Byelaw Proposals

“Well-intentioned but confusing and over the top” was the DPA’s reaction to the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s proposed changes to the byelaws for public access on Dartmoor”

The proposal comes from the Dartmoor National Park Authority following a sharp uptake in anti-social behaviour and inconsiderate use of the moor since the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions over the past year.  

In reiteration of the DPA’s core values, CEO Phil Hutt says, ‘“The DPA recognises that a prime purpose of the DNPA is to conserve and enhance the National Park and that preventing bad behaviour is  part of that. However, it is also tasked with promoting opportunities for the public to enjoy its special qualities.  As written, the proposals are confusing and risk punishing responsible users of the Park, as well as badly-behaved ones.”

To this end, whilst the DPA supports the DNPA’s overall aim to protect Dartmoor through such legislation, the Association is critical of the flawed nature of the proposal and has raised some concerns and suggestions for amendments. Any changes to the byelaws should not occur as a knee-jerk reaction to the events of the past year, and should instead reflect a long-term plan to support the hard-working Rangers in their preservation of our landscape. Unless there is a real will on the part of the Authority and the police to enforce any new rules, the proposed changes will likely have little effect in curtailing irresponsible use of Dartmoor, and only act to restrict the movements of more considerate visitors to the moor. The DPA also noted that no mention was made in the proposal regarding littering and pollution, which are key issues that need to be addressed moving forward.  

Furthermore, the byelaws must be clear in language and enforceable. The proposal contains ambiguous wording which leaves much open to interpretation, and makes several distinctions in rules for different land designations. The Authority should ensure that its proposals can be understood by those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of such designations, so that the public can clearly understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to the National Park.  

The Dartmoor Preservation Association was established in 1883 and is an independent charity which acts to protect and enhance the wild beauty of Dartmoor National Park alongside the public’s right of access. It acts as a “critical friend” to the National Park Authority: regardless of our differences, we share a common concern over the future of Dartmoor. The DPA will be happy to work with the Authority or any other interested party to help protect the landscapes we love.

Image: Ross Barrett