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Moorland Association slams Natural England over fires

The blaze on Marsden Moor in West Yorkshire took eight fire crews to bring the flames under control.

The chief executive of the Moorland Association, Andrew Gilruth, has criticised the wildfire strategies of Natural England following a 300m by 300m blaze on Marsden Moor. It took eight crews from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to extinguish the flames. 

This is not the first fire at Marsden Moor in recent years. A 28-year-old man was jailed after being convicted of setting off a firework on the land that resulted in the burning of more than 700 acres of moorland in 2021. 

Mr Gilruth, told ST: “It’s a painful truth that, while Natural England and the environmental charities employ thousands of staff, none are wildfire experts. 

“However, this does not stop them from suggesting that they are experts, nor advancing policies that make little sense to wildfire experts around the world. In contrast, the fire service, farmers and gamekeepers are concerned about the dangerously high fuel loads created by conservation policies that promote the abandonment of traditional land management practices. 

“In other parts of the world, grazing and controlled winter burning is being stepped up to reduce fuel load and so protect communities and rare habitats,” he added.