Exmoor Local Access Forum

Chair:   George Curry (Independent Member of the Forum)

Vice Chair: Graham Lavender (Independent Member of the Forum)

Authority Representatives: Nick Thwaites and Dominic Elson

The Exmoor Local Access Forum is an independent statutory advisory body set up by Exmoor National Park Authority in 2002 under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.  It held its first meeting in February 2003.  The Forum's purpose is to advise the National Park Authority, Natural England, the two local highway authorities covering the area and other statutory bodies about improvement of public access to land for open-air recreation and enjoyment.  In providing advice, the Forum must have regard to the needs of land management and conservation of the natural beauty of the landscape.   The Forum meets twice a year and its membership includes two representatives of the Authority.

Forum MemberInterests
Alison Kent

Alison Kent worked as a Ranger for Exmoor National Park Authority for 15 years with specialist knowledge of Rights of Way and access issues.  Alison is also a member of Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management.  Alison joined the Local Access Forum in 2009.

Currently, Alison is British Horse Society Access Officer and Chair of West Somerset & Exmoor Bridleways Association. Has lived in Somerset for nearly 40 years on a 30 acre small holding, stocked with cattle, sheep and horses!

Alison likes walking with her dog as a companion on long distance paths and National Trails throughout the UK.   Alison is keen to see that everyone has an opportunity to experience and enjoy the special qualities that Exmoor has to offer.

Annie Prebensen

Annie moved to Exmoor in 2004. After a career in the city, including many years in New York, she now works as a garden designer. She lives, farms and manages woodland near Dulverton and is passionate about maintaining the unspoilt nature of the Exmoor landscape.  All of her land management has environmental protection and enhancement at the fore.

She loves walking and riding on Exmoor and joined the ELAF in order to ensure that access to this wonderful area is maintained for everyone.  A number of footpaths cross her land so she is interested in the challenges of protecting the livelihood of farmers while allowing others to enjoy the countryside. Having seen the constraints facing her disabled niece she has a particular interest in improving access for those with disabilities.

Chris Binnie

Chris grew up on an Exmoor farm and rode the moor extensively. He now lives in the same house in the Porlock Vale. He is a Past Chairman of the West Somerset & Exmoor Bridleways Association. He used to lead 3 day stay away rides across the moor. He is now a sheep farmer, a Commoner on Dunkery, a Trustee of the Exmoor Society, and leads walks across the high moor.

Ed Greenall

Ed lives in the centre of the Exmoor Forest at Simonsbath, where he helps run the family farm and the Exmoor Forest Inn. These two ventures give him a unique insight in being able to represent the interests of visitors accessing Exmoor for leisure and recreation and the interests of farmers and landowners in the National Park. Ed has a special interest in the Exmoor Forest, where his family have been tenant farmers of the Exmoor National Park Authority and as organic farmers have been involved in various ecological projects.

George Curry (Chair)George has lived and worked in North Devon for 50 years. He and his wife, Sara, would spend every weekend walking and wildlife watching on Exmoor and so, on retiring from his role as CEO of a training and employment charity, they moved to Barbrook. His work with long-term unemployed, many with mental health problems, made him aware of the therapeutic benefits of walking in the countryside. George therefore has a special interest in access to Exmoor for disadvantaged individuals.  He has a deep interest in climate change and sits as an advisor on the Barnstaple Town Council Climate Emergency Working Group. George is currently involved in setting up a similar group in Lynton.
Graham Lavender (Vice-Chair)

Graham represents users of rights of way with a specific interest in the conservation and enjoyment of the rich flora of Exmoor. His interest in plants includes promoting education and understanding by leading several guided botanical walks on Exmoor each year. Graham also volunteers, surveys rights of way with his wife and reports any broken furniture or issues discovered along the route.

Kate O'Sullivan

Kate walks and regularly horse rides on Exmoor. The family farm has rights of way passing through the land, so she represents the interests of those landowners with rights of way and the users of the rights of way.

Laura Carew

Laura has lived at Tarr Steps on Exmoor for twenty years and she and her husband who was brought up on Exmoor have a farm and woodland that is traversed by the Two Moors Way and a bridleway. Living next to a prime tourist attraction gives her some insight into the issues that need to be addressed to improve the experience of visitors and maintain the beauty and ecology of the area.

Peter May

Peter grew up on 1500-acre farm in Oxfordshire and his first job was with an Agricultural Engineers in West Somerset. Peter has a love for the great outdoors from hill walking, cycling and mountain biking on Exmoor and the Quantocks. He has competed in the Exmoor Ironman 70.3 five times. Peter is also an instructor for the Dave Thorpe Honda Adventure Centre which runs motorcycle training and rides over Exmoor weekly, during the season.

Peter joined the Exmoor Land Access Forum to encourage and develop the use and enjoyment of our beautiful moor for everyone. Peter is also the Rights of Way officer for a local motorcycle group

Robert Billson

Robert is a retired Chartered Surveyor and moved to Exmoor 12 years ago. Robert is a horse rider and joined the Forum three years ago with a view to learning more about Exmoor and to continue his longstanding interest in preserving public rights of way and rights over Access Land. Robert has enjoyed discussing access with other like-minded members.

Robin MiltonRobin has been an Exmoor National Park Authority Member since 2010 initially as a Secretary of State appointee and now as a Parish appointee. Robin is an Exmoor farmer with land both in and out of the National Park as well as moorland grazing on both Withypool and Anstey commons keeping sheep, cattle and Exmoor ponies.

As a landowner, Robin has experience of having rights of way, open access and has a permitted path that carries part of the Two Moors Way route on his farm. Also, Robin has been involved with the NFU and CLA, which has been a useful experience in terms of rights of way and access.

Rupert Martin

Rupert moved from a farm in Northamptonshire, where his father established and managed a model farm since WW2 to work as a management trainee in the timber industry in London’s East End.  Moving to Dorset in the late 70’s to found his own business manufacturing commercial lighting, a business in which Rupert is heavily involved with to this present day.

A lifelong shooter, he purchased the Lillycombe Estate and Culbone Stables Inn near Porlock in early 2018. Rupert is passionate about the health and well-being of the English countryside and those that earn their living from it.

Simon Gibson

Simon has been a farm manager for the last 28 years working on many different types of farm in the UK. Simon has always worked in areas with public access and is keen to see access and farming working happily together. Simon is particularly interested in educating others about countryside issues and food production. Currently Simon manages the Lee Abbey Estate at Lynton. Previously, Simon was the Chair of the Essex LAF when it was set up in the early 2000s.

Nick Thwaites

Nick moved to Exmoor from Wiltshire in 2000 initial settling in Wootton Courtney and then a couple years later moving to Dulverton. Having had a varied career in the communication sector he moved into Mobile communication when it all started in the UK in 1984, sticking with it until retirement.

Working for large international companies necessitated travel around the world - building an experience of quite few “odd” places although he can safely say returning home has always been the highlight of his journeys.  It is safe to say he passionately believes in maintaining the National Parks balance between those in business, those working, those visiting the park and those living here and striving to enable this to work is his goal.

Luckily, he has been able to assist in this effort through his work on Dulverton town Council, both as Chair and as a member  for over 15 years; he is pleased to be elected as a Town and Parish member of ENPA. Nick feels that it is the “local” view tempered by worldly experience which gives consideration to overall Park purposes and to the needs of those that make up the National Park.

Dominic Elson

Dominic is a Secretary of State appointed Member of Exmoor National Park Authority. He moved to Exmoor in 2016 after many years working in southeast Asia, mainly Indonesia. His professional interests are in rural economic revival, community empowerment and land rights. As a development economist, he has conducted studies of economic barriers facing isolated rural communities, especially in small island states. He is the founder of a non-profit foundation that has supported Indigenous communities in the Pacific islands to develop eco-tourism enterprises. Therefore, he brings global perspective on issues of access to precious landscapes, how negative impacts can be minimised, and benefits shared equitably.

With the rest of his time, Dominic helps to run a certified organic sheep farm on the western edge of Exmoor, specialising in rare breeds and selling produce directly to the public. A popular bridleway runs through the farm, giving Dominic the opportunity to chat to equestrians and ramblers almost every day.