As we’re sure you will understand, given the government’s advice to stay at home, our office is closed until further notice.  Our staff are working remotely and therefore it’s no longer possible to reach us by telephone at the office.

However, please don’t think that we’ve gone away!

We have arranged for our post to be redirected, so we will be responding to letters – though it will take a couple of days longer than usual. We will post updates about what we’re doing on our website and we can answer questions by email – our address is info@dartmoorpreservation.com

In these uncertain times, many organisations are finding new ways to carry on with their work and the DPA is no exception. We are using conference calls and emails to maintain communications with our partners and in the past couple of weeks we have taken part in wide-ranging conversations with senior officers at the Dartmoor National Park Authority, covering matters as diverse as car parking and swaling. We have also talked to them about what will happen when the Park re-opens and possible projects we might carry out together when things return to some semblance of normality.

There is still the usual administration to carry out and in view of the uncertainty of the financial markets at present, we are keeping a very close eye on our financial affairs and cash flow. We are also continuing to monitor planning applications and, as usual, we will raise objections to any which we feel are inappropriate. Our trustees made great efforts to ensure that their quarterly meeting in April, conducting business “virtually” through an exchange of emails.

For those who might be unaware of it, the consultation period on the draft Dartmoor National Park Management Plan has been extended to the end of May, to enable as many people as possible to respond.  Some of our members and trustees have already completed the online survey and we are preparing a more detailed written response on behalf of the DPA. Although we agree with some of its contents, we also feel that it needs to be considerably stronger and more ambitious in a number of areas. If you would like to view the plan, it can be found on the National Park Authority’s website, by clicking on the following link:

https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/living-and-working/management-plan/management-plan-review

The page also tells you how to go about commenting on it.

Two other important and closely-linked matters will also be resolved in the next week: first, we will decide what to do about the AGM. We feel it would be irresponsible to even think about holding it during the usual weekend at the end of May, even if we were allowed to. We are considering moving it to the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August, but even that seems quite risky. We are also looking at a range of other options, from conferencing to postal voting. Once we have seen the government’s plan for phasing out “lockdown” we will make a decision and inform all of our members.

The second issue relates to our magazine “Dartmoor Matters”. This is ready to go to press, as soon as we are able to include details of when and how we will hold the AGM. We have spent some time exploring how we can manage the mailing process whilst adhering to social distancing advice and we hope to send it to members in the next two or three weeks. We will also load an electronic copy to our website.

As people keep saying, these are strange, almost surreal times. “Lockdown” isn’t helped by looking out of the window at some of the wonderful weather we’ve been having and wishing we could be outside, enjoying a walk on the moor. However, we have to believe that this will come to an end and we will be able to get outside, take part in walks and conservation work days, and see friends and family again. In the meantime, DPA staff and trustees are continuing our efforts to protect and enhance Dartmoor and as soon as possible – to paraphrase a line from a well-known movie – “We’ll be back!”