FUW members are being reminded to follow the Heather and Grass Burning Code to avoid damage to the environment, hefty fines of up to £1,000 and cross compliance penalties.
The burning of heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse and Vaccinium (bilberry) is only allowed between 1 October - 31 March in upland areas (land in the Severely Disadvantaged Area of the Less Favoured Area) and 1 November - 15 March elsewhere.
It is possible to carry out controlled burns at other times but only under a licence that may be obtained in very specific circumstances. The Heather and Grass Burning Code asks farmers to prepare thoroughly before any burning is undertaken as well as plan and consult well in advance of the burning season.
Those planning a controlled burn need to contact the local Fire and Rescue Service, consult and co-operate with neighbours, especially woodland owners, to establish or confirm a burning programme for the year and those on common land are advised to consult fellow Commoners and the local Commoners’ Association if applicable.
Carefully planned and controlled burning is beneficial for agriculture, wildlife conservation and the wider environment if it is carried out in the correct manner. However, using burning as a management tool with a poor understanding can be equally damaging to the environment.
For further information and guidance on the Heather and Grass Burning Code, see here.