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Exmoor Agreement

Interests collide before an agreement is reached over Exmoor

News 1981 3 mins

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TV reporter John Doyle discusses an agreement on the future of Exmoor National Park. Councillors sign an agreement between conservationists and farmers. In 1981 Exmoor National Park Authority, the Country Landowners’ Association and National Farmers’ Union publish guidelines for the management of moorland with the aim of striking a balance between conserving the park’s natural beauty and promoting its enjoyment to the public.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 gives protection to native wild birds building on the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. Hill farming subsidies are introduced in 1949 by the National Farmers’ Union who had to push for Exmoor to be included in the agreement. In 1976 the new Exmoor National Park Committee commissioned a report on low intensity farming systems essential on Exmoor to keep high quality moorland and not let it become too eroded. The Exmoor National Park was designated in 1954. Two thirds of the park is in the County of Somerset and one third is in Devon. The landscape is described as semi-natural as it has been influenced by human activity over thousands of years.