HC Deb 24 May 1988 vol 134 cc180-1
3. Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that red flags do not fly on Dartmoor when live firing is not taking place.

Mr. Freeman

When live firing is not planned, no danger flags are flown. When firing is cancelled, for example due to bad weather, we aim to remove the danger signals as quickly as possible to permit maximum recreational use of the moor. We try to remove them in these circumstances by midday.

Mr. Steen

I thank my hon. Friend for his interest in this last great wilderness in Britain and for his courtesy and helpfulness to the conservationists, but is he aware that the 8 million people who visit the moor each year are deprived of using 70 per cent. of the high moor because of live firing, 52 weeks a year, Monday to Friday, other than in August? Will he try to persuade the Army to end its somewhat dog-in-the-manger attitude, which results in the flags flying for far longer than is necessary? Will he please do something to have them taken down when they are no longer needed?

Mr. Freeman

As I have said, the moor is used for Army training and for recreational purposes. If it would be helpful, I should be happy to meet my hon. Friend, together with representatives of interested bodies, to discuss the future of Dartmoor and to listen to their suggestions and representations.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Is my hon. Friend aware that those who have spent their lives in Devon, unlike my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] No, it is a fact—are aware that the presence of all branches of Her Majesty's forces in Devon is part of Devon's history, livelihood and ethos, which is greatly appreciated by those—other than some, only a few—who have come there recently?

Mr. Freeman

I agree with my hon. Friend's sentiments. The Army has been using Dartmoor for training for over 100 years.

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