First it was the fire chiefs, then some of the National Park authorities, and now Yorkshire Water, calling on grouse moor owners to stop setting fire to the heather during this time of national emergency.
[The tell-tale pattern of heather burning on a grouse moor, undertaken solely to increase stocks of red grouse for shooting. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
Yorkshire Water has issued the following press statement today:
YORKSHIRE WATER TO HALT CONTROLLED BURNING ON THEIR LAND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Yorkshire Water and United Utilities have asked their tenants and land managers to halt controlled burning on their land until further notice. Both water companies are significant landowners within their areas of operation, including owning moorland which is used to gather water for drinking water supplies and to help reduce the risk of flooding.
The instruction to cease any form of burning comes following requests from emergency services and local councils that landowners cease moorland burning. There are concerns that controlled burning increases the risk of unintentional wildfires, and that fumes from any form of fire may affect members of the public suffering from COVID-19.
Both Yorkshire Water and United Utilities are committed to ensuring that the emergency services staff dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic can focus on that work, rather than facing additional challenges that burning may bring. Both companies are asking that members of the public who intend to exercise in moorland areas in accordance with government guidance are aware that their actions can cause wildfires, and that they should behave responsibly to ensure that wildfires are avoided.
Richard Emmott, Director of Corporate Affairs said: “At this time of uncertainty all areas of society have a responsibility to ensure that our emergency services can focus on the key national priority, which is helping people affected by COVID-19 and halting its spread. We have therefore taken the decision to ask our tenants to cease burning until further notice.”
Well done, Yorkshire Water.
Incidentally, if anyone has photographs of grouse moor burning that have been taken from today onwards, please send them in with details of where and when they were taken and we’ll publish them here. If you don’t want to be named as the photographer that’s fine, they can be published anonymously.
PLEASE NOTE: It’s important that if you witness smoke from a grouse moor fire that’s affecting the public highway, please report it to the police immediately, to give them the best opportunity of taking action.