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Dartmoor Beauty Spot in the Balance

January 31, 2013





The Open Spaces Society(1) is dismayed that the Dartmoor National Park Authority is proposing to give permanent consent to the Ministry of Defence to use Cramber Tor, south-west Dartmoor, for military training.  The planning officer’s recommendation will be put to the authority’s members at their meeting on Friday (1 February).

The society, with the Dartmoor Preservation Association, Ramblers and others, has objected strongly to the permanent use of 848 hectares around Cramber Tor for ‘dry’ training.  Such training involves blank ammunition and pyrotechnics, low-flying helicopters, digging and wiring, as well as the less controversial adventure activities.  It has occurred here since 1981 on a temporary arrangement, with renewal every ten years or so.  Now the military for the first time seeks permanent consent.

Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘The use of Cramber Tor for military training conflicts with the ethos of the national park, where the top priorities are the protection of the natural beauty and the promotion of quiet enjoyment and understanding of the park’s special qualities.  The military’s activities here disturb the public’s peaceful enjoyment of the area and put the magnificent heritage of ancient monuments at risk.

‘Use of the area may have been relatively low in the past, but once the military has a permanent permission, the national park authority will have limited ability to control the use that is made of the land.  Such use may well increase in future.

‘A permanent consent would be detrimental to the national park and people’s enjoyment of it, and we urge the national park authority’s members, if they feel they must give any consent, to do so for a further temporary period, ie for a maximum of a further ten years.

‘It should be noted that there has never been a public inquiry into the use of Cramber Tor for military training, and the military’s arguments for the continued need to train here have never been tested before an independent inspector.  It would be wrong for the national park authority now to grant permanent consent and to seal the fate of Cramber Tor for ever.’


Notes for editors

1.         The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.

CONTACT:          Kate Ashbrook           

Kate Ashbrook

General Secretary

The Open Spaces Society

25a Bell Street

Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA



The Open Spaces Society is a registered charity (no 1144840) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 7846516).


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