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Cramber Tor Cock-Up

February 2, 2013

I am not at all surprised that the spineless Dartmoor National Park Authority has given the MoD permission to abuse the Cramber Tor area of the National Park for a further 40 years. The National Park Authority has always been lame in the protection of southern England’s last great wilderness.

Lessons need to be learned. Campaigning organisations such as the Dartmoor Preservation Association must learn all over again how to campaign.

The last time the Cramber permission was renewed, the DPA mounted a proper campaign, and didn’t just submit a letter of objection. At that time the park authority received more objections than on any other issue in its history. Okay, we still lost, but nearly half of the park authority voted against renewal.

I know. I was the DPA’s chief executive at the time. At least the MoD had a battle.

The DPA has got too cosy with the Dartmoor Establishment. And to the Duchy of Cornwall which exploits Dartmoor to wad Prince Charles’ wallet. The DPA exists to uphold National Park values. It isn’t there to buddy up with the powers that be.

And how nice it would have been to see the Ramblers mounting a proper full-blooded campaign against this appalling abuse of the Dartmoor National Park. Years ago its then director Alan Mattingly, promised Dartmoor’s Sylvia Sayer that it would fight to oppose any renewal of the Dartmoor military licences. I have to say I didn’t notice any campaign.

Poor old Dartmoor. When will this National Park ever be free?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2013 4:56 pm

    And members of the park authority who voted for this abuse should resign!

  2. February 3, 2013 10:05 am

    It’s not quite like that. Although I couldn’t attend I have made some inquiries. Many park authority members wanted to renew for a much shorter period but they were stymied by legal advice from the officers – but the officers didn’t get their recommendation. I believe that members do appreciate the conflict between national park purposes and military training. The DPA put up a good fight: the CEO lobbied behind the scenes, spoke at the meeting (on behalf of the Open Spaces Society too) and did press interviews. I think you are too critical without knowing the facts. It is a bad situation, and poor Dartmoor continues to suffer, but people weren’t quite as spineless as you make out.

  3. February 3, 2013 11:14 am

    I take Kate’s point but I think what we wanted to see was the DPA and the Ramblers lobbying not behind the scenes but in the media well in advance where they could explain their case (I exclude from that criticism the Devon Ramblers who did or one of them anyway). Why weren’t DPA members asked to put in individual objections? Why is there no ongoing campaign against the military abuse of Dartmoor? We had the licences for northern Dartmoor renewed the other year, now Cramber Tor. Is everyone now going to just sit back and let these licence periods run?

  4. February 3, 2013 11:17 am

    And come to that, shouldn’t national groups be pushing for an inquiry into the vast amount of landholdings the MoD has. Every part of the MoD gets cut but this.

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