HOPES are running high for backpacker camping on Dartmoor after the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) was granted permission to appeal against a high court decision to ban it.

The decision comes after Alexander Darwall, the owner of 4,000 acres of Dartmoor, took the DNPA to the high courts late last year, and successfully challenged the decades-old legal underpinning of the right to wild camp on the moor without the permission of the landowner.

While Darwall's lawyers conceded that there was a legal right to recreation on the moor, they asserted that recreation didn't - and never did - include wild camping.

They also cited issues of litter, environmental degradation and antisocial behaviour.

After the legal right to camp was overturned in January, thousands demonstrated on Stall Moor to express opposition to the ruling and to urge the DNPA to appeal.

Instead of having a legal right, the National Park has since struck a deal with landowners which gave a permissive arrangement, renewed on an annual basis, in exchange for a sum of public money to landowners.

Lawyers for the DNPA argue that the judgement given in January is flawed, due to the fact it is based on a very narrow definition of 'recreation', and that the ruling runs contrary to the historical understanding of the law, which thousands of people since 1985, including the DNPA and all previous landowners, have considered to include camping.

It was for these reasons that Lady Justice Asplin, the court of appeals judge, decided that there was cause for appeal, and that the previous judge presiding over the case could have misconstrued the nature of 'recreation'.

Emma Linford, a campaigner with The Stars Are For Everyone, said: 'A permission is not the same as a right – we’ve been sold a deal which is the poor cousin of the rights we once held.

'Nature-connectedness in the UK is the lowest across the whole of Europe. We need to be safeguarding and extending rights of access – challenging this decision in court demonstrates that the national park is true to its root purpose – a place for people and for nature. We stand in steadfast solidarity with them as they take this fight back to the Darwalls – we invite anyone who is able to donate to the legal fund which is needed to help restore our right to wild camp.'

Dartmoor Preservation Association are fundraising for the appeal. Tom Usher, CEO of the DPA said: 'It’s a travesty that, at a time when the National Park is operating under a 48% real-term budget cut over the last 12 years, that we should also be facing the loss of access rights at a time when the benefits of nature-connectedness have never been more vital.

'We’re supporting Dartmoor National Park to appeal this decision and we ask the public to donate what they can to the fund.'

To donate to the Dartmoor camping appeal fundraiser, which has now reached over £40,000, click here.