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What is it that you don’t understand about the concept of private property?

The Dartmoor wild camping ban further limits our right to roam. It must be fought
Sophie Pavelle

Yes, it will, now get off my moor.

24 thoughts on “What is it that you don’t understand about the concept of private property?”

  1. “This loss leaves the kind of grief that only nature can muster – and sustain. This grief is fuelling a wildfire of outrage in all who have been touched by the moors. A crowdfund to assist Dartmoor National Park Authority in appealing against the verdict has been shared by millions online since Friday and is gaining impressive momentum.”

    FFS it’s not the Spanish Inquisition. You can camp for about £15 a night and get showers and toilets.

    “The Right To Roam campaign, which advocates for better access to nature in England, reminds us that we are banned from 92% of English land.”

    So what? What are you missing out on by only getting 8% of land? Majestic views of the hanging gardens of Babylon? No, it’s more fields. Like all the other fields.

  2. Pain in the butt. Usual neighbourhood suspects have gone apeshit. As is usual these days, everything in life breaks down to a 50/50 split (pro/anti).

  3. I was following this in another paper, last week. Looking at the comments, it’s fuelled by a complete misunderstanding of what the “commons” were. There has never been a “right” for anybody to wander across any bit of land they choose & particularly camp on it.
    “Rights of the common” were held by specific people in the area in question for specific things. Grazing livestock, gathering firewood for personal use, foraging pigs etc. Those rights weren’t available to any Tom, Dick or Harry passerby. They’d get thrown off, if nothing else by the people who did have those rights, will full sanction of the law. It’d be trespass or theft.
    Dartmoor National Park, which seems to have been awarded some administrative powers over what is otherwise private property took upon itself to “permit” camping in certain areas according to conditions of use it specified. So what got tested in court was whether the NP had the power to impose this on the private owners of the land in question. Court found it hadn’t.

  4. Worth pointing out that there is no “common land”in the entirety of the British Isles. Even the beach between low & high tide is owned by the Crown. And hasn’t been since at least the bronze age. Even before the advent of laws & courts, someone will have considered they owned it & had exclusive use of it.

  5. The problem with wild camping isn’t the people who regularly wild camp. They are usually nature-lovers who pitch up somewhere out of the way and, if they have a campfire, know how to do it properly and tidily. Nobody minds them, even if you actually find one in the act.

    No, it’s the “let’s get pissed in a field and burn stuff” weekends that are the route of the problem – and they’re spoiling it for everyone.

  6. It’s worth looking at “public footpaths” & why there’s disputes over them. They’re “rights of way” over private land. Originally they were agreements between the owners of the land & those of outlying farmsteads so that people from them could, for instance, gain access to the church to attend services. They didn’t give a right of passage to anybody who fancied walking on them. Which is why they often pass in close proximity to dwellings. They were an expression of good neighbourliness. You would personally know the people who used them.

  7. bloke in spain,

    There has never been a “right” for anybody to wander across any bit of land

    Not true. Scotland has had a right to roam since 2003. That’s what this is about: people point to Scotland and say “it works there, why can’t we have it here?”.

  8. @Geoffers…

    That’s the nub of it. Covid lockdown attracted swathes of the great unwashed to our green and pleasant land, and with it the inevitable damage and rubbish, sheep-killing dogs, vehicles blocking roads and access to farms. The regulars know the rules and behave themselves. High-end incomers who recently moved from urban to rural ‘for more space’ are not immune either.

  9. “Even the beach between low & high tide is owned by the Crown” Much of rather than all of: exceptions include (i) bits it’s sold or gifted over the centuries, or which it has accepted has been owned by someone else for donkeys’ ages, and (ii) the foreshore in the Northern Isles where the tradition of Udal Law hangs on.

    Oighreachd a’ Chrùin Alba says its assets include “just under half the foreshore”. It also gives a more intelligent description of what “ownership” implies for the Crown Estate than you’ll usually see.

  10. Quite Andrew M. In Scotland they’ve seized the land from its rightful owners without their consent. I don’t suppose Dartmoor landowners are too keen on it happening to them.
    We’ve recently had a National Park created down here. I know some of the people who were involved in it. It’s a business. They got the legislation because leisure amenities are good for the local economy. All the businesses in the towns in the park sell goods & services to visitors. The NP itself is a business, albeit its revenue comes from tax money. It has a well paid CEO or whatever you want to call him & now employs numerous people. But its resources are the private land of local landowners. They consented to this lot because they too thought it was good for the area.
    Dartmoor National Park is a business. No doubt DNP thinks its good for DNP to permit wild camping. No doubt your tax money will soon be paying for tent inspectors. But who’s going to be responsible for the wear & tear on the land? At what point to the number of tents on that piece of land effectively prevent the owner from enjoying its use? Don’t suppose any of the landowners to consented to the running of a business on their land without compensation.

  11. Does rather prove the point, dearieme. It’s all owned by somebody. Although the “beneficial owners” maybe somebody else. There is no land ( nor apparently sea bed out to 12 miles) you can use without somebody’s permission.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    Even the beach between low & high tide is owned by the Crown
    There’s stretch of road in Richmond that floods during springy Springs and therefore doesn’t come under the control of the local council and parking isn’t restricted, but the water will regularly get above the door sills.

    Its reasonably well known in the motorhome community and we’ve stayed there overnight, the higher vehicle makes it a bit safer, but its worth checking before stepping out. Being able to read tide tables helps because spring and autumn Springs can get exceptionally high, especially around the peak of the 19 year cycle.

  13. There’s stretch of road in Richmond that floods during springy Springs and therefore doesn’t come under the control of the local council and parking isn’t restricted,
    Well someo0ne must have built & maintains the road, BiND. Who? Whoever it is will own it & have control of it. It may simply they don’t choose to exercise control.
    There’s a lot of this sort of thing. Because people have customarily used somewhere, they think they have a right to do so. And then get pissed off when they are told they can’t.
    Yes there is law around this. You can get customary rights to cross someone else’s land to reach yours. 12 previous year’s unopposed use (IIRC) may set precedent. But that would only be for the purposes of the owner of the land being crossed to. Not any Tom, Dick or Harry & wouldn’t necessarily entitle him to park a car on it.
    You don’t even have a “right” to park a car on a public road. Any stationary vehicle can be regarded as “causing an obstruction on the public highway”.
    It all seems a bit finnicky but at the route of it is stopping people arbitrarily seizing land because the owner doesn’t happen to be there at the time to enforce his rights. Without that, you couldn’t have property rights.

  14. “Weir’s Way” was a show on STV from the ’70s and ’80s which the eponymous Tom used to wander about the place giving a bit of history and interviewing the locals. (Although often ridiculed at the time as cheesy and old-fashioned, given the number of such shows today, it could be said to have been rather ahead of its time.)

    I bring it up because of one episode that always stuck in my mind. Unusually, it just featured Tom and his walking chums sitting around a campfire reminiscing about their young days (vaguely the ’30s to the ’50s) escaping the smoke and grime of Glasgow to walk and cycle around the surrounding countryside, particularly the banks of Loch Lomond.

    “What d’ye think o’ this idea of a National Park, then?” came one question. “Ach. That’s the worst thing that could happen. Some o’ the landowners might be a wee bit ‘o a problem, but as long as ye shut the gates behind ye and don’t leave a mess, maist o’ them don’t mind. But once ye put that broad arra on it… forget it. Once the government gets its hooks into it, there’ll be fences and signs everywhere ye look”.

    Twenty-odd years later, the “Scottish Parliament” did turn Loch Lomond and its environs into a National Park. And there are fences and signs everywhere you look.

    “Scotland has had a right to roam since 2003.“

    And that’s nothing more virtue signalling. “Tresspass” was never a thing in Scotland. Which is precisely what Tom’s pal was getting at: the only thing Scottish landowners could level against anyone was cousing actual damage. But the government can keep you out.

    Final thought: more than two-thirds of Scotland’s land area is owned by the Forestry Commission.

  15. “Twenty-odd years later, the “Scottish Parliament” did turn Loch Lomond and its environs into a National Park. And there are fences and signs everywhere you look.“

    True. And one of those signs explains that you’re in a “camping management zone” and that wild camping isn’t allowed.

    Oh, the irony.

  16. “You don’t even have a “right” to park a car on a public road”

    Try telling that to the “school run” parents outside my house…

  17. Tommo,
    Has to be the the London one. The river through Richmond North Yorkshire is far too inland to be tidal.

  18. There never was any problem I encountered in Scotland walking wherever you wanted as long as you weren’t the sort of arse who wanted to walk across a field of grain, or to disturb a shoot, or shove your way into the grounds of a house, or let your dog off the leash near a flock of sheep. Otherwise you could just wander where you wanted in the great outdoors, happy as Larry.

    My father had a meadow he hardly used, with a fine big broadleaf tree in it. Kids from the council houses would wiggle through a gap they’d made in the fence to swing on ropes they’d fixed to the branches. The old boy took the view that when there was neither a crop to trample nor beasts to scare he’d just let them do it. It was the custom. Since I usually went to and fro to school by crossing a glebe pasture I was well used to the idea.

    In which case why institute a “right to roam”? Low politics I assume.

  19. dearieme: I’ve probably mentioned before that my father was a lawyer. He could never figure that out either. (His rants about it are the reason I know there was never a law against tresspass up here.) Probably, as you say, low politics. Window dressing. Same as abolishing fues; they just got replaced by long-term leases, but the smartarses could strut around congratulating each other for “abolishing feudalism”.

    I really struggle to think of a single thing that damned Parliament’s been any good for.

  20. Bloke in North Dorset


    London. Ranelagh Drive, it’s actually Twickenham but the navigator kept referring to Richmond.


    I was sceptical for the same reasons. But when we got there we had no problem even though parking regulations are enforced at each end and the other side of the road.

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