Byelaw Review FAQs

Byelaw Review FAQs

Why have you reviewed the Byelaws?

The byelaws date back to the late 1980s and need updating to reflect changes in the way people are now using Dartmoor, taking into account legal, practical and technological changes.

The revised byelaws aim to remove ambiguity from existing byelaws, so we can continue protecting the special qualities and fabric of the National Park; its wildlife, archaeology and the livestock that graze the Commons.

Who will enforce theByelaws?

Dartmoor has a team of Rangers who routinely patrol the National Park and spend a lot of time talking with people about the byelaws. They are supported by volunteers, other staff, and police officers.

Rangers will always explain and engage first, helping people to understand the byelaws and why they are needed. Enforcement is always a last resort.

Do you have the resources to enforce?

We always do our best to target the resources we have in the most effective and appropriate way. This means focusing on areas where we know there is a problem. We will continue our approach of explaining and encouraging, and only using enforcement as a last resort.

How do the byelaws aid enforcement?

The proposed new byelaws are much clearer for the public and the team enforcing the byelaws. They give clear rules about what you can and cannot do. This clarity is needed for enforcement.

What or where is the Access Land?

Access land includes land that is defined as Common land in Section 2 of the Dartmoor Commons Act, land designated or designated as access land under the CROW Act 2000 or other land to which the public has access because the National Park Authority owns or has a legal interest in the land. Please see map.

Why have you removed the proposed changes to the wild camping byelaw?

The Authority is currently defending a claim by a landowner that challenges the practice of wild camping on Dartmoor. The claim is due to be heard by the High Court in December. We will not be making any amendment to the camping byelaw until the current court action is concluded and the outcome considered.

Therefore, this byelaw remains as currently stated in the existing byelaws and the areas where you can wild camp on Dartmoor remain unchanged.

Has there been a change in the way that Motorhomes can use Dartmoor?

No. You have never been able to stay overnight in motorhomes, camper vans or caravans in car parks and laybys. There are many opportunities for people to use campsites and we have a variety available on and around the National Park. We want to support our local businesses and ensure that people are leaving no trace of their visit.

Are you banning wild camping?

No, we are proposing to remove some small areas (approx. 8% in total) from the permitted wild camping map. This is to protect these areas from overuse. We have also clarified what is meant by the term ‘wild camping’ to prevent problems caused by fly camping.

Why is the new byelaw limiting six dogs? Does this include commercial dog walking companies?

Yes, it does apply to professional dog walkers. The purpose of the byelaw review is to provide clear and simple rules which reflect modern developments and to ensure that dogs on the access land are under effective control.

The maximum number of six dogs is in line with limits set by our local authorities and insurance limits for professional dog walkers.

The byelaws refer to when dogs should be on a lead and when under effective control – is this the same for six dogs as it is for one?

Yes, it does. It’s important that all dogs are kept under effective control or on a lead if asked.

Why have you removed the proposed recreational activities byelaw?

The proposed byelaw had been suggested to bring the revised byelaws in line with our Recreational Events Policy which was adopted by the Authority in 2018. However, following the consultation it was agreed this would be difficult to implement formally through byelaws.

Why won’t you allow recreational drone flying on Dartmoor, yet will allow film companies to use them?

The use of drones and model aircraft on any access land within the National Park is not permitted under the current byelaws. The proposed update clarifies the wording for the avoidance of all doubt, ensuring that drones and other powered model aircraft do not impact on the enjoyment of others and/or disturb stock and wildlife.

A commercial drone operator still requires the permission of the landowner. As part of seeking this permission they must provide their CAA licence, Public Liability Insurance details and a detailed flight plan before permission is considered.

What’s the penalty for breaching byelaws?

Byelaws are enforced by local authorities (in this case, the National Park Authority). Where there is clear and persistent  breach, DNPA has the authority to refer the case to the magistrate’s court. If someone is convicted of breaching a byelaw, the court has the power to fine them. However, whilst the breach of a byelaw is a serious offence and a criminal matter, it is not a recordable offence and does not therefore result in the perpetrator receiving a criminal record.

Are you reducing the right of access on foot and horseback?

No, we are simply amending existing byelaws and ensuring they reflect modern life. People can still enjoy everything that makes Dartmoor so special: wild open moorland, wooded river valleys, history and heritage and more besides.

The byelaws refers to ‘pedal propelled vehicle’ – does this include electric bicycles and mini motos?

Yes, it includes electric bicycles and mini motos.

Are the rules for cycling on Common Land changing?

No. The cycling byelaw remains the same. Bikes are only allowed on Common Land or Access Land if they are following a bridlepath, byway open to all traffic or a permitted cycle route.

Why are you banning barbecues?

Barbecues especially single use, disposable ones can cause wildfires that have the potential to completely devastate wildlife and habitats. Most wildfires are caused by small fires that spread, combined with a sustained period of hot, dry weather. By adding barbecues to the fires byelaw, we are ensuring we are minimising the risk of wildfires as much as we can. One careless action could impact the environment for decades to come.

Furthermore, single use barbecues or the coals from other barbecues, are often left as litter; that can also harm the wildlife and the environment.

The byelaws don’t seem to address the issue of littering which is an increasing problem. How is that being dealt with?

There are existing laws (Environmental Protection Act 1990) that deal with litter in open spaces like Dartmoor. It is an offence to throw down, drop or deposit litter or do anything that may lead to the defacement of the place by litter.

How can I comment on this final draft of the revised Byelaws?

We will be seeking further views on this final draft from our statutory consultees and key interest groups. If you would like to make a comment on these changes you can send an email to

What happens next?

We will be seeking views from our statutory consultees and key interest groups, as well as considering any further comments. This is not a formal consultation.

A final version of the revised byelaws will be presented to Members at an Authority meeting in early 2023.  If approved, they will then be Sealed and published in the local newspapers for 6 weeks, as per the Defra guidance, before being sent to Defra for final approval. This can take between 3-6 months.