Cyclists stage mass trespass on Dartmoor

Public access: Hundreds pedal on to Devon moors in protest at new national park rules restricting where they can ride
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The Independent Online
THE RIGHT of access to the countryside and opposition to live animal exports were the subject of separate demonstrations yesterday.

Cyclists on Dartmoor protested against being banned from open land while environmentalists demonstrated against crops being grown on the Sussex Downs. In Dover, Kent, activists were campaigning against the export of lambs and sheep.

More than 200 cyclists pedalled onto Dartmoor in a mass trespass to protest against a new bylaw. A rule introduced by Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) makes it an offence to cycle on common or access land except on a bridle way or with the owner's consent.

The Cyclists Touring Club organised the protest against the bylaw, which was brought in at the beginning of June.

Dave Richards, spokesman for the CTC, said: "Cyclists have been riding all over the moor since the bike was invented. Intransigence on the part of landowners, Devon County Council and the Government has led to cyclists being thrown off Dartmoor when it is supposedly government policy both to encourage cycling and to recognise the public's right to access and to enjoy the countryside."

The DNPA said the new rule was needed to prevent erosion and halt disturbance to livestock and wildlife.

In another mass trespass, 150 demonstrators from The Land Is Ours marched through cornfields on the Sussex Downs to campaign for more access to public land. The group is opposed to farmers growing crops on parts of the Downs which used to be open to the public.

The animal rights groupCompassion in World Farming held a rally and march through Dover to protest against the launch of a new ferry service to Dunkirk for the exportation of live lambs and sheep.