After three days of evidence and strong cross examination, the Vixen Tor footpath Inquiry has been adjourned until 16 and 17 December 2010.
Evidence from the objectors has still to be heard as well as further evidence from the Ramblers. There will also be closing submissions or statements from the main parties and a visit to the site. The Inspector will then make a decision but this may take several months.
Climbers and Ramblers have been present throughout the Vixen Tor Inquiry in Princetown, Devon. Dave Turnbull spent 45 minutes on the first day of the inquiry giving evidence and was also cross-examined by the landowner’s counsel.
Vixen Tor, one of the most strikingly interesting features of Dartmoor, has been visited by walkers and climbers for at least well over a century. Antiquarian guides to Devon refer to its sphinx-like appearance and association with folklore and legend; 20th Century guides show unhindered visits by the public.
“But that was all stopped in 2003” says Tom Franklin, Chief Executive of the Ramblers, “when the landownership changed, and walkers and climbers found their way barred. In our view access had already become public long before that, through use since time immemorial.”
Presented with evidence from the Ramblers and the British Mountaineering Council, Devon County Council last year ordered that a right of way be recognised over the Tor. But objections by the landowner have resulted in a public inquiry to be held on behalf of the Secretary of State.
John Skinner of Devon Ramblers said: “Devon Ramblers have pressed for the last seven years to have public access to Vixen Tor restored but neither the right of access nor negotiations by Dartmoor National Park with the landowner have yet produced the result that climbers, walkers and the wider public desire. The claim for footpaths is a further step in the direction of public access to Vixen Tor.”
BMC Chief Executive Dave Turnbull said: “The BMC believes there is an excellent case for renewed access to Vixen Tor. Given the strong body of user evidence over the past 60 years, the BMC hopes that the inquiry finds in favour of the hundreds of climbers and walkers who have enjoyed visiting this iconic corner of Dartmoor.
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