I shall be 98 when the Dartmoor National Park Authority next considers the future of military training on Cramber Tor.
That is the effect of the park authority’s surprising decision on 1 February. The members did not grant permanent permission, they granted a ‘temporary’ permission – for 40 years, more than a generation.
But there is some comfort. Members went against the planning officer’s recommendation because they know that the long-term aim for the Dartmoor National Park is to free it from damaging military training. At least there will be a review, even if it is a long time in the future.
James Paxman, chief executive of the Dartmoor Preservation Association spoke at the meeting on behalf of the objectors. He has recorded the outcome on his blog.
There are a number of conditions, including a requirement to notify the park authority of major exercises (involving more than 350 troops) so that the authority can warn the public. An amendment from David Lloyd, to add a condition that the national park authority and the military should devise a system of notifying the public whenever training is to take place, was slammed by the officers as not being sufficiently specific (yet it is no less specific than some of the other conditions imposed).
Pyrotechnics, digging, low-flying and other damaging activities continue to be allowed. But the fear is that the military will increase its use of the land, which it can do within the conditions.
Perhaps the park authority will celebrate the Dartmoor National Park’s centenary in 2051 by finally saying no to all military training there.