Fires and BBQs are now banned on open public spaces in Kirklees, in a joined-up effort to tackle dangerous grassland blazes.
This tough stances comes after the most recent Marsden Moor fire, which was started by a discarded BBQ, estimated to have covered more than 10sq kilometres of moorland.
The fire is now under control and has been extinguished, but the National Trust said that an investment of up to £360,000 in restoring the special habitat at Marsden Moor has been lost.
In a bid to protect the local environment and wildlife, Kirklees Council has 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.
From Friday 26 April, 2019 anyone found to be lighting a fire or BBQ will have it extinguished and be given a fixed penalty notice of up to £150. Failure to pay this could lead to conviction by a court and a maximum fine of £1000. There are exemptions for private residential land.
This order will be in place from 26 April-31 October, 2019.
This robust stance is being backed by The National Trust, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Water.
Karl Battersby, Strategic Director for Economy and Infrastructure at Kirklees Council, 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.”
Kirklees District Commander Toby May said: “Whilst 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 associated with moorland fires to help prevent similar incidents in the future.”
Craig Best, Countryside Manager for the National Trust in West Yorkshire, 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 special place.”
Chief Superintendent Julie Sykes, District Commander for Kirklees Police, 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.”
Lisa Harrowsmith, Yorkshire Water Land and Property Lead Surveyor, said: “We welcome the decision made by Kirklees Council. It is illegal to have barbeques on moorland and we have seen recently the huge damage they can cause. Wildfires are not only dangerous but devastate local ecosystems 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.
To find out more about the order and to see which areas are affected click here