News

Staying safe and protecting our distinctive moorland

Walshaw

Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Calderdale Council is reminding residents and landowners of the risk of wildfires on local moorlands and how they can be prevented.

Large and preventable moorland fires cause a significant strain on resources. Calderdale Council continues to work with partners at West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police to enforce Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) in areas of the countryside to prevent fires. These orders prohibit the lighting of fires, barbecues, sky lanterns or anything that causes a fire risk – failure to comply is a criminal offence.

The recent spell of warm and dry weather has increased the fire risk. Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Calderdale’s Community Safety Wardens, along with partners, will be patrolling the borough’s upland area advising local communities and landowners of the dangers of fires and taking enforcement action against those who fail to comply with the PSPO.  Additional signage is also being installed to warn of the risks and what people should do if they see any problems on the moors.

Calderdale Council’s Assistant Director for Neighbourhoods, Andrew Pitts, said:

“We’ve all seen the devastating effects of wildfires on moorland across the region. It’s so important that we do all we can to protect our distinctive environment, our wildlife and their precious habitats, which are destroyed by these preventable fires.

“We know that most visitors treat our open spaces with respect, but unfortunately there is a small minority who act irresponsibly, and whether intentionally or not, their reckless behaviour causes issues which could have very serious consequences.

“We’re reminding people, ahead of the Bank Holiday, to follow the Countryside Code, pay attention to signage and be aware of our Public Space Protection Orders prohibiting the lighting of fires, barbecues, sky lanterns or other items that could cause a fire risk.”

Damian Brown, District Commander in Calderdale for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service added:

“As the weather starts to improve and restrictions ease, we know that people are taking the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful open areas that Calderdale has to offer, including our amazing moorland.

“However, this does lead to an increase in incidents in these areas. Many will know that as a Service we have spent the last few days tackling a fire on Marsden Moor, with crews from across the county working hard to bring the blaze under control. This demonstrates the impact that moorland fires can have and the resources it takes for us to respond to such incidents.

“Over the next few months, our crews will be actively undertaking visits to the local moorlands, nature reserves and areas of natural beauty to engage and educate the public on how to stay safe, avoiding preventable and careless fires which have a devastating impact on the environment and wildlife.

“Please, if you are heading out, follow the PSPOs that are in place and be vigilant. Moorland fires have a huge impact on us as a Service and threaten the safety of people animals and property. Please, Be Moor Aware.”

In order to stay safe and help protect the countryside, residents and visitors should be aware of the following important steps to take when visiting rural and moorland areas:

  • Clear up and take your rubbish home after picnics
  • Observe all signs and notices – they are there for a reason
  • Follow the Countryside Code and look out for signs at National Trust and Yorkshire Water properties
  • Don’t leave glass bottles. Not only can they hurt people and animals, but they can magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire
  • If you notice anything suspicious report it immediately to the Police or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
  • If you have any information which you believe will assist the Council to prevent moorland fires please contact us at asb-unit@calderdale.gov.uk
  • Never throw lighted cigarette ends onto the ground, or out of the window of vehicles or trains. Always ensure that they are completely extinguished and disposed of responsibly.
  • Never be tempted to light a fire in the countryside and only barbecue in authorised areas

If you see a fire:

  • Contact the Fire Service immediately – dial 999 – Do not assume it has already been reported.
  • Do not attempt to tackle fires that cannot be put out with a bucket of water.
  • Give a map reference (if possible) or give a landmark like a farm or pub to help find the fire.
  • Guess the size of the area that is burning.
  • Say what type of terrain it is (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland).
  • Leave the area as soon as possible.
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