Less burning, not moor burning (2)

Here is the response to the email from the previous blog post:

Sorry for the delay in my response. I have been getting some advice on the issue from our environmental health team.

As you are well aware heather burning is a legal activity subject to the Heather and Grass (Burning) Regulations (as amended) 1987. The regulations are summarised in the Defra Heather and Grass Burning Code 2007 which is a voluntary code of best practice adopted by most moorland estates and is available online.

The National Park Authority supports careful and lawful burning as it is an essential management tool for our heather moorlands. Cutting is the only alternative to burning but can only be carried out where vehicle access allows and where it does not pose a threat to the unique and important archaeological remains on the moors. Burning is not always appropriate on blanket bog but due to its low altitude and low rainfall the North York Moors has very little of this habitat.

On the North York Moors heather burning is carried out primarily by game shooting estates to create patchworks of different aged heather on which red grouse thrive. This not only maintains the moorland landscape that we know and value but also reduces the risk of wildfire, creates young shoots for sheep to eat and benefits many species of wading bird.

The Special Protection Area, which covers the majority of the North York Moors moorland, was designated in recognition of the international importance of this area for Golden Plover and Merlin which both rely on the open and managed nature of our moorland. Not burning would increase the tree cover on the moor which would have a negative effect on these birds and many other species of moorland wildlife. Climate change predictions suggest that wildfires will be more frequent and more serious so well managed burning is a vital way of reducing fire risk which can result in long term habitat destruction as well as risk to people and property.

If you give me permission, I will write to *********, inform him of the problem and ask him to have some consideration when burning in windy conditions.

Kind Regards,

Well if that doesn’t sound like an advert for driven grouse shooting I don’t know what does. And that is from a district council responding to one of their resident’s complaint about smoke nuisance affecting their life and home.

Where was the advice on environmental health? It sounded like – breathe in the smoke and fumes and put up with it – it’s essential for the environment. Whatever did the environment do before men in tweed torched the moors? And how do Golden Plover and Merlin survive throughout the rest if their world range without all that burning, and indeed for all those thousands of years before we invented driven grouse shooting? It’s a puzzle isn’t it?

The sooner that DEFRA sorts this out the better.

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9 Replies to “Less burning, not moor burning (2)”

  1. This sounds like a response from the National Park. It's been recently suggested, I'm not sure on what evidence, that the Park has taken to advising people to complain to the local authority. Even if not, that is probably the right route anyway.
    Environmental Protection UK has this advice, including on what to do if the LA is unresponsive: https://bit.ly/2IhqHgp

  2. This is essentially an appeal to history and completely fails to take in to account the multitude of negative externalities associated with burning, not least of which is air pollution for local populations. When you actually ask these people why heather moorland should dominate such huge areas of our uplands, they offer very little in the way of reasoning aside from repeating tired old cliches. Our vegetation isn’t adapted to fire, yet we have widespread management plans that demand this. That obvious absurdity seems lost on many, including NGOs. It’s time to shed our ridiculous attachment to cultural, open landscapes.

  3. Some interesting comments made by Frankie Boyle last night and previous episodes but whilst my memory is fresh, last night he definitely mentioned grouse shooting and land ownership in Scotland.

      1. He comes over as a very abrasive character, but actually he's an extremely nice and conscientious bloke. He wrote something about his childhood experience of the NHS which was one of the most beautiful and moving things I've ever read. If the injustices, lunacies and ridiculous nature of having grouse moors starts seeping through into popular culture then that's a very good sign indeed, but it also says something that it's taken so long. There's plenty of comic mileage to get from them Frankie, Eddie, Jo, Jimmy, Billy, Peter, Frank, Micheal, John, Ricky.......

  4. This reads as though it's straight out of the Moorland Association playbook. We've still got a way to go when this sort of unthinking, blinkered stuff is being trotted out.

  5. This is about what one would expect of the powers that be whether in the NYMNP or one of its local authorities, all in awe of or in hock to ( mentally at least) the rich, famous, infamous or aristos who "own" the grouse moors that make up much of the NP. Burning is to put it bluntly a burning issue, those in charge of these moors see it as absolutely necessary to their continued existence, those around the moors not involved in "grouse" think burning a bloody unpleasant inconvenience. The problem is many of those in authority do not understand what an ecological disaster grouse management is and they need educating fast. We do not need this annual smokefest and this smokefest is absolutely full of particulates. In actual fact we don't need DGS at all the moors could be genuinely managed for biodiversity and would be much more biodiverse as a result. Incidentally there is plenty of deep peat on the NYM despite much of the peat being on dry heaths.

  6. Is this correct: 'Climate change predictions suggest that wildfires will be more frequent and more serious so well managed burning is a vital way of reducing fire risk which can result in long term habitat destruction as well as risk to people and property.'

    I haven't looked recently but thought there are also CC predictions that we (UK) may get wetter and cooler? (and certainly more unpredictable). In any case is there any evidence of reducing fire risk this way? - is there not a counter-argument that keeping undamaged peat and sphagnum etc. (not burning) - keeps the whole habitat wetter (also slowing flow downstream and reducing floods in populated areas - more risk to people). Here in Angus Glens I've heard that fire service and communities are concerned at how frequently they have to deal with so-called controlled muirburn fires getting out of control - not risk of wildlife or its impact on people and property


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