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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 16:56 GMT
Ramblers declare war on the Army
Two soldiers
Dartmoor has been used for training for 200 years
Ramblers campaigning against military training on Dartmoor have stepped-up their protest by threatening to walk through areas where exercises are taking place.

Previously walkers have avoided military exercises on Cramber Tor - which do not involve live ammunition.

But conservationists said the moor is a national park and should not be controlled by the armed services.

The armed forces are applying to renew their licence to train on Cramber, which is open to the public.

Successful battle

The conservationists' campaign is designed to pressure Dartmoor National Park Authority to refuse.

The latest battle comes after an alliance of pressure groups, including the Dartmoor Preservation Association, Council for National Parks and the Ramblers' Association, successfully fought against permission for a clay quarry on Dartmoor.

John Bainbridge, of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, said: "Because of the training on Dartmoor it is very difficult to add two or three miles to a route just because the Army says so.

Helicopter in training
The moor is used for a wide range of training
"It is a national park that was created for the people, it wasn't created for the army."

The Ministry of Defence (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 three ranges at Merrivale, Oakworthy and Willsworthy, with limited public access when they are not in use.

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

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Clark, commandant of the training area, said: "The soldiers are told they have to be considerate of the public and most members of the public respect that and are pragmatic.

"We work together extremely well so that we achieve both their uses and our uses of Dartmoor."

The Dartmoor National Park Authority will decide on the military's licence to train on Cramber in the Autumn.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

05 Oct 01 | England
Army fires Dartmoor economy
25 Mar 02 | England
Army wins battle for park
14 Jul 01 | UK
Dartmoor opens for business
25 Jan 01 | UK
Bomb fears for wild campers
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