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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 05:32 GMT 06:32 UK
Army fires Dartmoor economy
Two soldiers
Dartmoor has been used for training for 200 years
The Ministry of Defence is using economic weaponry to defend its right to train on Dartmoor.

A report says the military presence adds 6.35m to the area's economy.

The Open Spaces Society launched a campaign in August to end training in the national park.

The report by Colonel A H Clark, the Dartmoor Training Area Commandant, urges councillors to support the 200-year-old tradition.

West Devon District Council discusses the issue next week.

Helicopter in training
The moor is used for a wide range of training
The MoD currently has rights to exercise on 14% of the total area of the national park, some of which it owns outright.

Live firing takes place on the three ranges at Merrivale, Oakworthy and Willsworthy, with limited public access when not in use.

Other training exercises, including low-flying by military aircraft, cover large areas of the high moor.

Colonel Clark warns that banning the training would have a serious impact on the rural economy.

According to the Open Spaces Society, the MoD will decide by next year on where to train in future.

Landscape threat

Training licences are up for renewal in 2011. 2012.

The society says military training is incompatible with the principles of national parks.

It claims live firing has caused "immense damage" to the landscape and its prehistoric archaeology.

The Army says it has a large team of environmental specialists to balance environment and military training.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

06 Oct 01 | England
Army wins battle for park
14 Jul 01 | UK
Dartmoor opens for business
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