THE CLA is urging moorland managers and owners of such land not to undertake controlled burning of heather during the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to alleviate the potential strain on public services and to protect residents with existing respiratory health conditions.

Heather burning on moors is a strictly regulated by Natural England and local authorities, and is recognised as an essential tool to manage moorland and has many benefits including enhancing biodiversity and conservation.

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “Despite thorough risk assessments being undertaken prior to a burn, there is always a small chance of a wildfire as happened recently at Deer Hill Reservoir in Marsden, West Yorkshire.

“During this pandemic, I would encourage moor managers only to burn if absolutely necessary and then, to do so with extreme caution, being mindful of weather and atmospheric conditions to avoid it having an impact on residents in surrounding areas who may already have reduced respiratory ability, in addition to putting undue stress on emergency services.

“Instead of burning, managers of our moors could consider cutting as part of their management plans. We are also urging the public using the moors to be extra vigilant not to start a fire accidentally, in line with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services’ ‘Be Moor Aware’ campaign.”

* Other calls on controlled burning

The Moorland Association, which represents many upland land managers, has advised its members of the current wildfire risks and associated implications under COVID-19 restrictions and support a suspension of heather burning and to use cutting instead.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will be contacting landowners in their service area to urge landowners to stop controlled burning with immediate effect. They also call on the public in general to follow the simple advice contained within their ‘Be Moor Aware’ campaign – follow this link for more information.

The Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) asking all land owners and land managers in Cumbria to only undertake prescribed fires if absolutely essential to do so.

The Peak District National Park has called on land managers to stop any prescribed or controlled burns at this time within the Peak District moorlands.

Anyone observing suspicious behaviour can report it by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the moor watch website at