Peak moors at risk as fires break out in dry spell

SIX moorland fires have already broken out in the Peak District this month as the risk increases because of a lack of rain.

Signs warning visitors to take extra care to prevent fires were going up this week, as the moors become vulnerable to blazes that destroy wildlife and plants and cause erosion.

So far this month firefighters and Peak District National Park rangers have tackled fires at Dovestones near Oldham, Marsden Moor, Ramshaw Rocks near Warslow, Walker Edge near Broomhead reservoir, Moscar Moor near Ladybower and Reaps Moor near Warslow.

Fires can be especially damaging at this time of year because of their toll on ground-nesting birds and lambs.

People visiting the moors are asked never to light barbecues or campfires, not to drop cigarette ends or leave glass behind.

Park head of field services Sean Prendergast said: “It is glorious weather for walking on the moors but we’re asking people to be especially careful at this time of high fire risk.

“These are not empty places, they’re areas of international importance for their wildlife and plants, and they absorb and store carbon which helps tackle global warming.

“Moorland fires undo many years of hard work in managing these rare environments. If people see anyone acting suspiciously on the moors, we ask them to report it to the police immediately.”

Fire warning signs have been erected by the National Park Authority, landowners including the National Trust and United Utilities, and gamekeepers responsible for the moors.

Rangers carry out extra fire patrols during dry weather and the Peak District Fires Operations Group, which involves six fire and rescue services and the National Park Authority, is on standby to tackle any blaze in a remote area.

lAs the Peak District National Park celebrates 60 years, public consultation has been launched on how the park should develop over the next five years.

Farmers and land managers, businesses, charities, voluntary and community groups, parish councils, tourism organisations, recreation user groups and local councils are helping to produce a draft plan.

Key issues include doing more to support the local economy and communities, giving a bigger emphasis to supporting and promoting farming and land management, managing the reduction of carbon emissions and improving recreation opportunities.