Calderdale Council is working proactively with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police to prevent moorland fires, but all agencies also depend on the vigilance and care of those who are out and about in our wonderful countryside to play an active part in protecting it.
Whilst Calderdale was thankfully unaffected by recent high-profile blazes at nearby Marsden Moor and Ilkley Moor, it’s important that local people and visitors recognise the part they play in supporting the Council, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, West Yorkshire Police and other local authorities in preventing any future incidents.
Calderdale Council is working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in pursuing 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.
A formal consultation is launching on Wednesday 8 May 2019 for people to have their say on these plans. From Wednesday, people will be able to find out more and have their say at www.calderdale.gov.uk/pspo. The consultation closes on Tuesday 4 June 2019.
Consultation drop-in events are taking place on the following dates:
6-8pm on Monday 20th May at Todmorden Town Hall
5-7pm on Tuesday 21st May at Ripponden Council Offices
10-1pm on Saturday 25th May at Ripponden Council Offices
1-3pm on Sunday 26th May at Todmorden Town Hall
Everyone is welcome to attend and share their views, and staff will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.
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 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, which will be subject to formal consultation from Wednesday 8 May 2019. 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. By working together we can ensure our countryside remains a core part of what makes us so special and distinctive as we seek to deliver our Vision2024 for Calderdale.”
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.”
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.”
In order to stay safe and help protect the countryside, residents and visitors should be aware of the following rules when visiting rural and moorland areas:
- do not discard cigarettes in the countryside; dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished
- clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
- report any information about illegal fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
If you do see a fire in the countryside:
- contact the Fire Service immediately – dial 999 (don’t assume it’s already been reported)
- don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water
- give a map reference if possible, otherwise give a landmark such as a farm or pub to help locate the fire
- estimate the size of the area that’s burning
- describe the type of terrain (grass, bracken, forest, open moorland etc)
- evacuate the area as soon as possible