Response to the Dartmoor National Park Authority Dartmoor Byelaw Review

You can see the side by side comparison of proposed and existing byelaws and other reference material on the DNPA website.

The wording of the Dartmoor Society’s covering letter follows, together with a link to download the actual submission.

The Dartmoor Society Executive Committee have considered the draft proposals for changes to the Dartmoor National Park Authority Byelaws, taking on board a number of viewpoints to try and reach on consensus on each of the proposals. Where there have been conflicting opinions, we have sought the majority view. Our resulting specific comments are attached herewith. These have also been posted online.

As a general point, the use of pronouns should be non-gender specific.

With regard to the need for revision of the existing Byelaws, we welcome the proposals and consultation exercise although we regret that it has taken the unprecedented pressures brought about by the pandemic to highlight weaknesses in the current rules and their enforcement. The other issue that has become apparent with the influx of additional visitors has been a lack of knowledge of the byelaws applicable to Dartmoor’s access land or an understanding of the reasons behind them and even a basic awareness of the Country Code and, while we applaud the ongoing efforts of the Ranger service and Visitor Centre staff on the ground as well as your education and outreach teams, clearly more needs to be done to get the message through to these new visitors before they arrive, or when they move to the region, in order to provide education on the rules and the issues concerned in an effective way and this will require significantly more resources in future.

In many regards we agree with the views of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, particularly the need for better enforcement, although we may differ on a few specific issues, as can be seen from our attached comments. We also agree that a long-term view needs to be taken as we emerge from the specific problems brought about by the pandemic. These should take into account the consequences of increasing recreational pressure resulting from greater urbanisation around the periphery of the Park as well as the impact of increased activity that might impact on the existing infrastructure, air and water quality, climate change and the decline of species.

In terms of parking, we would also not wish to see a proliferation of signage and alternative means of controlling verge parking should be considered, such as positive signage on main approaches stating that parking should only be in designated areas, where discreet signage indicates that you can park.

One of the key differences to the DPA’s view is on the proposal that dogs should be kept on a lead during the ground nesting bird season under 10(iii). We also had much debate on the issue, with compromises suggested but, in the end, the majority view was that only a total ban as proposed would be fair and enforceable and that the Sandford Principle should apply.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of the new byelaws will come down to good education and enforcement, and we trust that these areas will also be under review and allocated sufficient resources, otherwise the exercise will be a waste of time and money.

Alan Endacott MA
Acting Chair, The Dartmoor Society

Download the Consultation Submission