Fines now in place to punish moorland firebugs

OLDHAM and Tameside Councils have banned fires and barbecues on the moors above the local authorities.Two Public Spaces Protections Orders (PSPOs) have been put in place to protect huge swathes of land – and wildlife – following a number of devastating fires over the last few years.

From November 1, anyone found lighting a fire, barbecue, or other objects such as fireworks and sky lanterns, will be given a fixed penalty notice of £100, or face prosecution.

Failure to pay any fixed penalty amount could also lead to prosecution.

There are exemptions for private residential areas but any land that has a public right of way or public access is included in the PSPOs.

Signage will now be put in place to advertise the PSPOs, which are in place for three years.

Cllr Arooj Shah, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council, said: “Prohibiting barbecues and fires sends a clear and strong message and these orders are in place to stop damage to property and possibly life.

“We want residents and visitors to enjoy these areas but at the same time people need to be responsible and respect the moors.”

Area Manager Damian O’Rourke, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are really pleased that the PSPOs have been enforced in public areas meaning that those found to be lighting fires and barbecues on our moors will be landed with a fine.

“The PSPO coupled with our prevention and reassurance work around moorland fires will hopefully reduce the chance of this kind of fire breaking out and a repeat of last year’s incident – which stretched our Service to its limits.

“Not only were our resources used, but those from neighbouring fire and rescue services and those across the UK, the Army, private sector as well as many volunteers.

“We continue to ask people to take care, especially when on the moors, and never light a barbecue or start any kind of fire.

“As well as see people receive a fine, these fires are devastating and the consequences so costly – to the community, the environment and to our service and resources.”

Pictured: GMP sergeant Neil Barker and PC Damieon Hartley-Pickles with Cllr Shah and John Gregory, head of homelessness and community safety at Tameside Council.

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