Warning over moorland fire risk

SIGNS warning people to take extra care to prevent fires are going up this week on moorland sites in the Peak District.

Lack of rain in recent weeks has dried out the moors making them especially vulnerable to fires which harm wildlife, destroy rare plants and cause erosion, taking years to regenerate.

Sean Prendergast, head of field services at the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “Moorland fires are especially tragic at this time of year when wildlife and farm animals are rearing young. Ground-nesting birds and lambs can be caught in the flames with horrific results.

“These are not empty places, they are areas of international importance for their wildlife and plants, and they absorb and store carbon which helps tackle global warming.

“Moorland fires undo many years of hard work in managing these rare environments. Most fires are caused by human carelessness, but some fires are suspected to be deliberate. If people see anyone acting suspiciously on the moors we ask them to report it to the police.”

Peak District National Park Authority rangers mount extra patrols during times of heightened fire risk but are asking the public to also be on the lookout for fires and to ring 999 immediately if they spot any.

People are also asked never to light barbecues or campfires when they visit the moors. They should also never drop cigarette ends (even if they think they are out) or leave glass.

Rangers along with land managers for the big estates are erecting fire warning signs at car parks and key locations used by the public.

The Peak District Fires Operations Group, which involves six fire and rescue services and major landowners along with the National Park Authority, is on standby to tackle any blaze in a remote area.