Thanks to the 349 people who signed the Ban the Burn petition (including one enthusiastic or forgetful person who signed it twice!).
The petition calls on Natural England and Defra to ban heather burning and drainage ditches on blanket bogs, and stop loopholes in the Heather and Grass Burning Code, and other relevant regulations and laws, that can be used to create exemptions to the ban on burning and draining blanket bogs.
I’ve now posted the petition (with all 12 pages of the list of signatories) to Andrew Wood, Executive Director Evidence and Policy at Natural England, and George Eustice MP, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for farming, food and marine environment.
Ban the Burn is urging people to email their comments on Natural England’s new draft guidance on restoring blanket bogs and phasing out blanket bog burning. Email comments need to be sent by 28th February.
Along with the Ban The Burn petition and the list of all its signatories, I also sent the following letter:
17 February 2014
Please accept and act on this petition from Ban The Burn, signed by 349 people, mostly residents of and visitors to Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.
The petition calls on both the Defra Under Secretary of State for farming, food and marine environment and the Natural England Executive Director Evidence and Policy,
to ban heather burning and drainage ditches on blanket bogs, and stop loopholes in the Heather and Grass Burning Code, and other relevant regulations and laws, that can be used to create exemptions to the ban on burning and draining blanket bogs.
Ban the Burn created this petition following serious flooding in Hebden Bridge in the summer of 2012, when it became clear that management practices on Walshaw Moor Estate, a large area of moorland above the town, had contributed to the flooding when Hebden Water burst its banks and swamped the town centre.
The group worked with hydrologists and ecologists to identify that the practices of draining and burning on blanket bog on Walshaw Moor were a serious contributory factor to the increased runoff into the valley from the uplands above the town. On the basis of this scientific evidence, Ban the Burn campaigns for an end to these practices.
Ban the Burn’s work has included making a formal complaint to the EU that Natural England and Defra have been acting unlawfully in permitting blanket bog burning on the Walshaw Moor Natura 2000 site. As you probably know, the EU investigation of the complaint is ongoing.
Ban the Burn welcomes Natural England’s recent draft uplands guidance refresh, that restoration of all degraded blanket bog is possible and that landowners should phase out blanket bog burning because of the damage it causes.
However, the group notes that the draft guidance from Natural England has no timeline for phasing out burning blanket bogs. This lack of urgency is problematic. Hebden Bridge floods are made worse by burning the Walshaw Moor blanket bogs and we can’t wait for the burning to be phased out over an indefinite period.
This is the context for presenting this petition.
We call on you to make sure that burning blanket bogs ends soon, within a definite time frame, and without any exemptions from the phase out of blanket bog burning.