Public urged to avoid using BBQs in rural areas

Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and protected habitats
Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and protected habitats

The public are being asked to avoid using barbecues in the countryside to help reduce the risk of wildfires following several incidents in recent days.

The call comes following a spike in wildfires breaking out across the country on areas of moorland, due to warm weather and ultra-dry ground.

Firefighters have recently battled wildfires at Marsden Moor, Saddleworth Moor, Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is urging people to avoid using barbecues and lighting fires in the countryside.

With dry and sunny conditions set to continue, more people are expected to visit the countryside over the bank holiday weekend.

The CLA, which represents 28,000 farmers and rural businesses, says serious incidents can be avoided if the Countryside Code is adhered to.

The group's president Mark Bridgeman said wildfires had 'devastating consequences' for livestock, wildlife and those working in rural areas.

“While we want everyone to enjoy themselves this weekend in the countryside, it’s vitally important people act safely and responsibly," he added.

“With that in mind, there is an increased risk of a fire associated with using disposable barbecues so they should be avoided at all costs.

"Reducing the risk of wildfires is key at this time of year.”

It comes as the government updated the Countryside Code to ensure visitors to the countryside respect the farmed landscape ahead of an anticipated rise in walkers.

With lockdowns curtailing other activities, footfall has rapidly increased on farm paths, throwing up new problems for farmers and landowners.

Changes include clearer rules to underline the importance of clearing away dog mess and staying on footpaths to protect crops and wildlife.