Huddersfield Daily Examiner

BANNED: No more fires and BBQs on moorland


- @Examiner

FIRES and barbecues have been banned from open public spaces across Kirklees, following the catastroph­ic fire on Marsden Moor.

And anyone caught flouting the ban will be hit with a £150 fine – and could be hauled before court if they fail to pay.

The clampdown comes after a fire was started at Easter Gate by a discarded BBQ. It spread rapidly across more than 10sq kms, killing wildlife and destroying a £360,000 habitat restoratio­n project.

More than 200 firefighte­rs battled the flames over four days, until it was finally extinguish­ed on Wednesday.

And, as the full costs of the blaze are now being assessed, Kirklees council has swiftly brought into force a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which bans fires, BBQs and other dangerous objects such as fireworks and sky lanterns, on council, National Trust and Yorkshire Water-owned land.

The order - which is backed by The National Trust, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Water - will be in place from April 26 to October 31.

Strategic director for economy and infrastruc­ture at Kirklees Council, Karl Battersby, said: “Bonfires and BBQs have always been prohibited in council parks and open spaces. But the increased risk of fire and people continuing to ignore the signs means we have to enforce this for the safety of visitors, local residents and animals and other wildlife nearby.

“We sincerely hope that we don’t have to issue any fines at all and that people will respect what we’re trying to do. However, we will not hesitate in taking action against those who show disregard to our borough by continuing to light fires and BBQs.

“I urge anyone visiting one of our fantastic parks and open spaces to please be respectful; don’t light fires and BBQs, or use Chinese lanterns or fireworks, and leave the spaces as you found them by putting rubbish in a bin or taking it home with you.”

The latest Marsden fire is the sixth in that area so far this year. As fire crews struggled to control it, a further four fires began nearby, the most serious at Deer Hill, in Meltham.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Kirklees district commander, Toby May, said: “While we do not wish to stop people from enjoying the spring and summertime in the great outdoors, we fully support this ban in order to protect our precious countrysid­e from fire.

“The events of the last few days have illustrate­d just how quickly fire spreads when vegetation is dry and the consequenc­es are devastatin­g to the landscape, flora and fauna.

“Not only that, but when a rampant fire takes hold it can quickly pose a real threat to human life, should there be people or properties in the vicinity. Due to the actions of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS), national and local partners, this has not happened on this occasion.

“The fire on Marsden Moor has required a huge Fire Service resource and the tireless efforts of numerous WYFRS staff to bring the incident to a conclusion. We urge people to take this ban seriously and educate youngsters about the risks assoc-iated with moorland fires to help prevent similar incidents in the future.”

Countrysid­e manager for the National Trust in West Yorkshire, Craig Best, said: “Following the devastatin­g fire at Marsden, we welcome this effort by Kirklees Council to try to prevent future fires from breaking out. We will continue to promote public safety on our land, and work in partnershi­p with others to promote the protection and enjoyment of this spec-ial place.”

District commander for Kirklees Police, Chief Supt Julie Sykes, said: “We fully support this ban and would urge everyone visiting the moors and other outdoor areas to be aware of their surroundin­gs and to take sensible and appropriat­e precaution­s.”

Yorkshire Water land and property lead surveyor, Lisa Harrowsmit­h, said: “We welcome the decision made by Kirklees Council. It is illegal to have barbecues on moorland and we have seen recently the huge damage they can cause. Wildfires are not only dangerous but devastate local eco-systems in many ways. For instance, they can destroy peat soils formed over thousands of years, which results in loss of valuable habitat and wildlife such as birds, reptiles and insects.”

Residents are also asked to avoid leaving glass of any kind lying around, as it can magnify the sun’s rays and cause a fire to start.

 ??  ?? The Marsden Moor fire at its height
The Marsden Moor fire at its height
 ??  ?? Karl Battersby
Karl Battersby
 ??  ?? The blackened moor at Deer Hill, above Meltham
The blackened moor at Deer Hill, above Meltham Picture: ANDY CATCHPOOL

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