The lighting of barbecues and fires in parts of the countryside in Calderdale could be banned in a bid to help prevent moorland fires
Whilst Calderdale was unaffected by recent high-profile blazes at nearby Marsden Moor and Ilkley Moor, Calderdale Council is working proactively with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police to prevent moorland fires,
A formal consultation has now been launched for people to have their say on plans which would see stricter prevention methods, through the introduction of Public Spaces Protection Orders, which would prohibit the use of barbecues and lighting of fires in defined areas of the countryside.
Calderdale Council’s Chief Executive, Robin Tuddenham, said: “We take the risk of moorland fires very seriously and recognise the importance of prevention activities in ensuring that we can protect our distinctive rural and moorland areas.
“We want people to be able to enjoy our beautiful countryside, but we also have a duty to protect it.
"We are working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to introduce stricter measures to prevent careless actions causing significant harm. This could include the banning of any types of fire lighting on our moorland, including the use of barbecues.
“Our existing prevention measures also include visits to landowners from our Community Safety Wardens, warning of the dangers of fires and also the penalties for starting fires.
"Signage is also in place to warn people of potential dangers and give advice on what to do if people see any problems on the moors.
“But most important of all is the role of local people and visitors to act with care and vigilance whilst in our countryside, to act responsibly and report concerns to the authorities."
The proposals for Public Spaces Protection Orders must be considered by the Council’s Cabinet before they can be put in place. This will happen as soon as possible after the consultation has ended.
Calderdale District Commander (West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service), Chris Lawton, said: “We wholeheartedly support any move to help protect the countryside and as we move into the summer months the risk of wildfires increases.
“We do not want to stop anyone from enjoying the great outdoors but it is a simple fact that when the vegetation is so dry, all it takes is a dropped cigarette or the careless use of a barbecue to start a raging fire.
“This then becomes an immediate threat to anyone in the area or any properties nearby and for the Fire Service these fires are challenging to contain and extinguish and can take up many days of our time and energy to do so. Please do take extra care if you are out and about.”
The consultation closes on Tuesday 4 June 2019.
Calderdale District Commander (West Yorkshire Police), Chief Superintendent Dickie Whitehead, said: “We are lucky enough to live, work and socialise in an area with beautiful countryside on our doorstep, and while our communities are free to enjoy it, we also need to protect it.
“While stricter measures are being considered, I would echo the messages from Calderdale Council and the Fire Service and urge the public to be aware of their surroundings and take appropriate precautions when lighting fires and using barbeques.
“We hope by sharing these messages and advice, we can reiterate what the public can do in helping us to protect our countryside and rural areas.”