Battle Plans Part V
It has been 18 months since we saw published Ministry of Defence plans for their military ranges on Northern Dartmoor. You'll remember (from post "Battle Plans Part III - Any clearer?") that during the 2012 financial year, the MOD had accounted for a series of actions to take place including:
- Walkham Spur flagpole to be relocated, with a 'look out' constructed and access works to take place on slopes near Fuges Post and Walkham Head.
- Removing 3 flagpoles in the Okehampton Training area, with Yes Tor being a priority for removal.
- Combining Watern Oke Flagpole with a 'look-out'.
Well, the wait continues, even as we approach the Summer of 2013. The MOD's Integrated Rural Management Plan did say that work would require the amendment of the local by-laws in order for the work to take place. The original 1980 by-law for Okehampton Training Area, for instance, listed the precise locations for flagpoles.
I have now received communication from National Park Head Ranger, Robert Steemson, on the matter of MOD plans. He says, in respect to the IRMP: "We are presently jointly looking at the potential removal and movement of flag poles etc. At the same time at a National level MOD are looking across all of their training areas to amend and update by-laws. It is anticipated that the work being done locally will fit in to the National review."
Mr Steemson adds: "The DNPA does not have the authority to amend the by-laws however we do through the Dartmoor Working Party and Dartmoor Steering Group have a good relationship to look after Dartmoor." Indeed, this responsibility for Dartmoor is demonstrated using Cramber Tor's recent agreement: "The change of use at Cramber Tor reflect only the continuing use of this land for 40 years (in the same format that they have used it for the last 30 years) not the permanent permission as MOD requested. The DNPA does not know what the MOD intentions are for the future and if anything changes they would need to re-apply for permission."
The MOD amends the by-laws, and judging by the lengthy pending list, and slow pace of the review process, (Byelaws in need of review available here) I think we can safely assume this might be another year or two...
This will inevitably push back all other planned MOD projects such as the reconstruction of a working target railway at West Mill Tor (pictured), originally scheduled for this year.