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Plea for public to follow Countryside Code as BBQ fire does £200k damage to SSSI

The National Trust has issued a plea for the public to follow the Countryside Code after a fire started by a barbeque tore through Marsden Moor, destroying blanket bog and vital habitats for ground nesting birds.

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Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images
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Plea for public to follow Countryside Code as BBQ fire does £200k damage to SSSI

The West Yorkshire moor is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation.

 

It is estimated more than £200,000 of investment in restoring wildlife habitat in the area has been lost.

 

Curlew and mountain hare populations are believed to have been most hard hit by the blaze, which covered more than 1,500 hectares.

 

In a statement, the National Trust said: “We need our visitors’ help to prevent the risk of fire across the countryside we care for, particularly when we experience prolonged periods of dry weather or are in drought conditions.


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“People can make all the difference in limiting this risk by just following simple measures included in the Countryside Code, such as ensuring they take home any litter, making sure any lit cigarettes are properly extinguished and disposed of responsibly, never lighting fires and only using BBQs in authorised areas.”

 

The fire started on Sunday at Easter Gate, as West Yorkshire basked in temperatures of 21 degrees centigrade.

 

Ten water pumps, a specialist high volume pump and helicopter, paid for by the National Trust at a cost of £2,000 an hour, have been in use, taking water from nearby reservoirs to battle the blaze.

 

Claims lives

 

The fire follows a warning in March from chairman of the England and Wales Wildfire Forum Simon Thorp that it is only a matter of time before an incident in the UK claims multiple lives.

 

Speaking at a Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) meeting in Parliament, Mr Thorp said a lack of funding for wildfire mitigation and the absence of an effective system to advise when fire risk is highest were causing significant problems.

 

He also suggested the Government was failing to work in a cross-departmental way to tackle wildfires.

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