Moors still at risk as government refuses to get tough over portable BBQs

With the easing of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, more people will be taking advantage of their summer break to head off to enjoy our Borough’s beautiful countryside.  Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Oldham Liberal Democrat Group, knows that the vast majority of local day-trippers will be considerate, but fears that our moorland may once more be placed in grave danger by irresponsible visitors using portable barbeques.

“We have seen the devastation caused by moorland fires triggered by idiots and arsonists in the past,” said Councillor Sykes.  “I can only pray that over the summer, especially if we experience more heatwaves, this will not be repeated, because the Conservative Government has recently told me it has no plans to outlaw portable bbqs and stiffen sentences for those causing catastrophic damage to our countryside and wildlife.”

Howard Sykes, looking out across Shaw

In May, Councillor Sykes wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice MP, calling for a national ban on the sale of disposable barbecues, and for greater court punishments for those found guilty of negligently or wilfully setting fire to our moors.

Councillor Sykes was disappointed to hear that the government does not intend to get tough.  Minister of State for the Environment, Rebecca Pow MP, said in her response ‘The Government has no plans for additional legislative proposals on the use of disposable barbecues’, and instead called upon people to observe the Countryside Code.

“Unfortunately, the current financial and other penalties imposed upon offenders found guilty of burning our moorland are pitiful in relation to the damage caused, and clearly the government has no intention of addressing that,” concluded Councillor Sykes. 

“Appealing to these criminal elements to observe the Countryside Code is frankly laughable; they are intent on breaking the law and are not going to read or take heed of the recommendations contained in a government booklet.”

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