With the weather forecast for the coming week not showing any signs of rain, people are being warned that new fines have now come into force to prevent the lighting of fires, including BBQs, fireworks, lanterns, and campfires, in many areas across Dorset.
Dorset Council is working with Forestry England and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service to protect countryside area including heathlands, forests, and coastlines from the devastation that unattended naked flames can cause.
Just over two years ago, 220 hectares of heath and forest were destroyed by a wildfire at Wareham Forest. Started by discarded disposable BBQs, the fire blazed for three weeks and took 150 firefighters and four million litres of water to extinguish. It will take decades for the area to regenerate.
Over the last two years, there have also been a series of injuries and safety concerns caused by BBQs used along the coastline and public spaces.
Dorset Council and its partners are working together to help ensure that all visitors are aware of the new law and the reasons for it. Anyone found to be breaking the new restrictions will be liable for a £100 fine and all banned items will be confiscated.
There is clear signage at the areas where the PSPO applies. These areas can also be seen at https://explorer.geowessex.com/cside/nobbq
Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Culture, Communities and Customer Services, said: “There is no reason to start a fire on a heathland or in a forest. They can get out of control very quickly, destroy important habitats and kill many species of animals and plants. If you must eat, take a sandwich, and bring the packaging home with you.”
Mark Warn, wildlife ranger for Forestry England in Dorset, said: “Dorset is a special place, its heathlands and forests are a real haven for wildlife. They are home to some of the UK’s rarest wildlife and are outstanding places to visit and connect with nature. Let’s keep them this way by not lighting fires or BBQs and bringing a picnic instead.”
Group manager Charlie Pack, of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fire can spread with devastating speed and, every year, we see large areas of our beautiful countryside destroyed. In far too many cases, this is down to people not taking care with campfires or barbecues. We can all play our part in protecting our heathlands and open spaces, so we are urging people to #BringAPicnicNotABBQ when out and about, and to avoid doing anything involving naked flame.”
Litter Free Dorset are continuing their campaign for businesses to choose to remove disposable BBQs from sale and to encourage people not to use disposable BBQs. Find out more at www.litterfreedorset.co.uk/projects-campaigns/disposable-bbqs/
All the agencies are encouraging people to take a picnic not a BBQ this year and, of course, take your rubbish home.
Further information on the PSPO for fires on open land can be found at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/anti-social-behaviour/public-space-protection-orders-for-anti-social-behaviour
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