DEFRA recognise necessity of heather burning

Although the government remains committed to phasing out heather burning, Defra has reconised that i

Although the government remains committed to phasing out heather burning, Defra has reconised that it is still a necessary tool for upland managers to lower the risk of wildfires and benefit biodiversity Credit: James Elkington/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Defra recognises that heather burning remains a necessary tool of upland land managers, mitigating the risk of wildfires & benefitting biodiversity

by Countryside Alliance

Whilst the Government remains committed to phasing out the rotational burning of heather on protected blanket bog, Defra has recognised that it remains a necessary tool of upland land managers, mitigating the risk of wildfires and benefitting biodiversity. In response to a question in the House of Commons last week, Rebecca Pow, the Under-Secretary of State for Rural Affairs, commented, “We do recognise that there will sometimes be circumstances where vegetation management is necessary and where burning may be the only practicable technique available and we will consider the views of landowners, managers and other stakeholders when assessing the scope of any future restrictions.” The Alliance is delighted that Defra has listened to evidence, and has refined its policy so that it reflects the latest scientific research.

Last year a team of respected scientists conducted a comprehensive review of the available research on heather burning from 2013 – 2020. They concluded that much of the previous science was out of date and should not be regarded as a safe basis for policy decision-making today. You can read the dossier here.

This change in Government policy comes in the wake of a Westminster Hall debate on heather burning in November 2020. Ahead of this the Alliance produced a briefing note that highlighted the latest scientific findings, which was distributed to MPs ahead of the debate. You can read our briefing note here.