Anthony Mangnall needs to correct the record

View from Great Mis Tor, dominated by molinaria grass. Photo by the author

Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall, who received a £5,000 donation towards his campaign office in 2020 from Dartmoor landowner Alexander Darwall, stood up in the house today to ask that:

‘leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish proposals for a scheme to incentivise owners of land within Dartmoor National Park to allow enhanced access to that land in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes.’

It is tempting to assume one can work out where his interests and loyalties lie when it comes to access to the national park and the right to roam and wild camp, but if more evidence were needed, it was provided by this factually incorrect statement picked up by campaigner, Guy Shrubsole:

It was clear from his prolix and flowery delivery that he has been studying at the Boris Johnson school of pompous and verbose speechification. Fair enough. Some people like that kind of thing. It is a very great shame, however, that he has also adopted the disgraced ex-PM’s propensity to mislead.

Darwall is not on the National Park’s committee, but it is not true that landowners have no representation. Perhaps Mr Mangnall thinks that neither Messrs Dracup and Glanville, both of whom farm on the moor, count? Mr Gribble, having residential properties and land within the authority’s jurisdiction, is a rather different case, of course.

And if you are interested to know more about Dartmoor National Park Authority’s membership, this is from their website:

“The Authority has 19 Members:

See a full list of the Members

  • Five appointed by Devon County Council
  • Five appointed by the district councils:
    • Two from West Devon Borough Council
    • Two from Teignbridge District Council
    • One from South Hams District Council

The remaining nine Members are appointed by the Government.

  • Four are appointed to represent parish council interests – they are nominated by Dartmoor parish councils and approved by the Secretary of State (Defra).
  • Five are directly appointed by the Secretary of State (Defra) to represent the national interest and are usually local people who have a particular interest in the National Park.”

This does not read like a body which has the power to impose its own agenda and include or exclude only those of its own choosing!

Correct the record, Mr Mangnall!

Look out for a follow-up on the implications for Dartmoor of a proposed inquiry and Mangnall’s bill. Initial reaction is that it sounds suspiciously like a means to divert more public money to private landowners in return for access… access which was a right and not at the mercy of permissions and payments.

We are also planning a panel event on the future of Dartmoor at the Byline Festival, July 14-16. Look out for more details in due course.