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Moorland: Fires

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 154877, tabled on 19 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the reasons for wildfires (a) on Bodmin Moor, (b) on Dartmoor, (c) on Benbecula and (d) in Northern Ireland in February 2021; and which other areas of high fuel load he has identified as being at risk of those fires.

Answered on

1 March 2021

Wildfire is a devolved matter and therefore, the information provided relates to England only.

It is the responsibility of the relevant Fire and Rescue Service to investigate the reasons for any particular wildfire, with these findings being collated by the Home Office. Where appropriate the findings of the relevant Fire and Rescue Service will be shared with Defra so that lessons can learned, as appropriate.

The Met Office developed the Fire Severity Index, which is an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start. It enables landowners and land managers to take action where the severity is identified as high risk.

We recognise that the primary cause of wildfire is people. We are encouraging sustainable land management practices that mitigate wildfire risk by reducing fuel loads and returning the land to a naturally wildfire resilient state. This includes encouraging landowners and land managers to adopt or create good quality wildfire management plans to reduce wildfire risk and prepare for any eventualities of wildfire. We are also exploring with Natural England and the Forestry Commission the possible development of suitable training around wildfire for landowners and land managers.

The Government will be setting out further measures to restore, protect and manage England's peatlands this year, as part of a package of measures to protect England's landscapes and nature-based solutions.