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graham lynch21 Jan 2005
Next week sees a crucial stage in the battle for access to Vixen Tor on Dartmoor. The inquiry to decide the appeal by the landowner against the land including the Tor being mapped as open country under the CRoW Act begins – the result will be a verdict of immense importance to all of us who enjoy the countryside in England and Wales.
Naturally the BMC will be there to fight for your rights to access this important Devon crag and the surrounding land, which is also popular with walkers. Success will mean that access to the land is secured by law when the CRoW Act access rights commence in August. We hope to keep you updated on how events unfold at the public inquiry with regular on-line news, so keep watching!
BMC Access & Conservation Officer Graham Lynch reports from the Inquiry.
Day one of the Inquiry opened much as expected, with a few protestors, the tv cameras present and a full public gallery. Opening remarks were made and the battle lines drawn. Then, a change of plan and the parties headed out for site visits. On a perfect cold and crisp Dartmoor afternoon, Vixen Tor stood magnificent on centre stage. It made you wonder why anyone would wish to prevent the public enjoying such as stunning place.
Today the arguments start in earnest – so who’s representing the BMC? The answer, Bill Renshaw of the BMC Access & Conservation Group, Brian Dent, local access representative, and Graham Lynch, BMC Access & Conservation Officer. We’ll do our best to secure the right result – incidentally, the Inspector’s decision is due by 28th February 2005
Most of the appeals in my area (Calderdale) were turned down on vegetative composition grounds ie they were deemed moorland like in character (dwarf shrub present etc). I believe the owner of Vixen Tor tried to 'improve' their land and fell foul of EIA regs so hopefully they will fail.
This evening, 25 January, 2005, Mary Alford (the owner of the land on which Vixen Tor stands)was handed a letter that set's out for her some of the 'damage' already caused at certain climbing venues drilling and bolting from - teh granite of Lands End to the Highlands of Scotland (including the recent damage at Cheddar, by certain members of the BMC. Actions that are supposed to assist in retaining; aquiring climbing access for climbers. Just to give her a flavour of what the BMC's representative Access and Con-servation Officer at The Two Bridges Hotel - will not be mentioning; bringing to the attention of the Inquiry at the resumption of the Public meeeting tomorrow.
was this the same woman who tried to change the soil and make it fertile enough for growing crops?
graham lynch31 Jan 2005
The public inquiry wound up with the closing arguments on Thursday, so it is now up to the Planning Inspectors to make their decision. The public service target for this is the end of February.
The overall feeling in the BMC camp is that things have gone well, but that the case for Vixen Tor is still very much in the balance, making it difficult to predict the decision. The Countryside Agency presented a coherent argument that the land is predominantly moor and thus open country under the CRoW Act. By contrast, the appellants’ witnesses were sometimes at odds and many present will have found much to question in their ecologist’s evidence. The Ramblers’ Association and the BMC presented credible ecological surveys that were in close agreement in stating that a greater percentage of the land at Vixen Tor is characteristic of moorland than is not. However, these proportions are not so heavily weighted in our favour that we can be completely confidently the Inspectors will agree that the land is predominantly moor – so we must wait to see what happens.
Until then we won’t know what our next move should be – either way the BMC will continue to work towards a satisfactory access situation. It just remains for me to thank Brian Dent and Bill Renshaw for volunteering so much of their time.
BMC Access & Conservation Officer
graham lynch31 Jan 2005
In reply to climbing haggis:
I'm not sure she ever planned to grow crops except in trying to grow sweeter grass for her cattle, but yes, this is the landowner that was prosecuted by DEFRA for adding fertiliser to land without the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment.