Robert Largan Column: Bill to ban disposable BBQs is step forward to protect peaks
A local gamekeeper once told me that there are three main causes of wildfires: men, women and children.
This year alone, at least two wildfires have been caused by disposable barbeques in High Peak, destroying hectares of farmland and environmentally significant peatland. This cannot be allowed to continue.
Last week I introduced the Disposable Barbeques Bill to Parliament.
The bill would prohibit the use of disposable barbeques on open moorland and give local authorities the power to prohibit the sale of disposable barbeques in their local area.
I am delighted by the positive, cross-party support that the bill has received from Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Northern Irish MPs; and that the bill was able to pass its first reading unopposed.
The aims of my bill are not new.
Currently, whilst the Countryside Code sets out an expectation that visitors should only barbecue where it has been deemed safe to do so, there is no law that enforces this guidance. Without one, there is widespread confusion and ignorance, sowing the seeds for future wildfires.
This bill seeks to clarify that law. My bill also builds on the work that a range of organisations have already undertaken.
The Peak District National Park Authority have already banned the use of disposable barbeques within their boundaries and called for local retailers to stop their sale.
Locally, I have had considerable success in convincing retailers to remove disposable barbeques from sale within the High Peak. Morrisons in Buxton, for example, removed them from display earlier this year.
The Co-op has also removed displays of disposable barbeques in 130 of its stores that border national parks.
The National Fire Chiefs Council, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Moorland Association, Moors for the Future, and the National Trust have all called for tougher regulations on the use of disposable barbeques. My bill does just that.
Unfortunately, this bill is what is known as a Ten Minute Rule Bill. This means that there is little chance of this bill progressing into law because of a shortage of time in Parliament to properly debate it.
Nonetheless, I want to use this bill to push the Government to act on disposable barbeques before we enter another unnecessary summer of wildfires.
To prevent wildfires, to protect farmers’ livelihoods, and to build up our defences against climate change, this bill presents a small but significant way forward.