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Ban On Controlled Burning Responsible For Spread Of Saddleworth Fire

July 1, 2018

By Paul Homewood

h/t mud4fun/Dave Ward


As the Saddleworth Moor fire continues to spread, experts blame the fire’s severity on the ban on controlled burning:

From the Express:



Fires have been raging on Saddleworth Moor since last Sunday, while another has been burning in Mid-Wales since Thursday.

Forecasters have issued a yellow weather warning for thunder and lightning in the south-west and South Wales.

A spokesman said: “Given the dry, warm conditions obviously the lightning could lead to a wildfire risk. The storm will be quite impactful and will see surface water and potentially localised flooding.”

Firefighters declared a “major incident” yesterday, as two blazes converged on the West Pennine Moors above Bolton. More than 80 were deployed.

On Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District, over 160 firefighters and 100 soldiers were tackling the seven mile fire.

Locals blamed a ban on controlled burning for the wild fire. It was issued to improve the scrubland’s ability to capture carbon from the air and so reduce pollution.

The practice was vetoed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which manages much of the moorland. It claims controlled burning damages peatland, rivers and wildlife.

But supporters say it creates fire breaks, although the blaze began on land where burning had taken place then spread to areas where it is banned.

Picture showing fire on moors

One gamekeeper said: “This has been coming for a long time. They are obsessed by carboncapture and don’t want to listen to what most people believe is common sense.”

Rob Marrs, professor of applied biology at Liverpool University also claimed the fire would not have spread so far if burning had been allowed.

Patrick Thompson of the RSPB said: “We take the view burning is detrimental to the ability of the land to store carbon.

“Some people disagree, but they are the ones who want to grow heather on what should be a wetland environment.”


Exactly the same points were made in a 2016 paper, “Prescribed moorland burning meets good practice guidelines: A monitoring case study using aerial photography in the Peak District, UK”.

This studied the nearby Howden Moor, and found that:

• Aerial photography provided an effective tool for monitoring prescribed-burning management.
• Over 70% of the burnable area was never burned during the 22-year study period, suggesting fuel accumulation will be high in these areas, with an increased risk of wildfire.
• Burning rates (0.9% per year) were far below current recommendations from the statutory conservation agency (10% per year).
• Annual area burned has increased since 1988 but has fluctuated through time and remains below recommended levels.
• Burn patches were in keeping with the target sizes and the risk of a large or escaped fire was very low.
Of course, we have seen similar controversy elsewhere, such as Australia and the US.
In this instance though, I find the attitude of the RSPB gobsmacking. It must now be clear that they place climate change over the protection of birds and other animals.
As for their precious “carbon capture”, a lot of good that has done.
  1. July 1, 2018 1:35 pm

    BBC R5 Live had someone on from the RSPB about this a few days ago, he managed to get “the fight against climate change” in 3 times within the 30 second part I heard. The parting comment from the presenter was about how wonderful the RSPB is.

    Statos should take note of the deployment of areas to big-up non stories, as in FIVE! square miles of fire, which is merely something like an area 2-3 miles across.

    • Adrian permalink
      July 1, 2018 9:07 pm


      Mostly you are right, and well done, but this time sadly you know not about what you write.

      It is sad to see you following what the Moorland Association says without an apparent understanding of how the ‘moors’ have got to where they are today in an attempt to tie this to nothing but AGW concerns driving desire for carbon storage.

      The uplands today are in most places a Calluna dominated habitat, rather than mixed bog habitat. This radical change from saturated bog to a highly flammable virtual monoculture of Heather has been driven by modern management practices for grouse shooting. It has been achieved by repeated ‘contolled’ burning which selects for species that are fire tolerant like Heather and destroyed the species than ‘should’ be present.

      So current game practices has created this problem. Now we are in a complex situation where we need to move back to the recreation of the habitats that formed the blanket peats in the first place.

      If there is a complaint to be made against all conservation agencies is that they have attempted to stop burning without putting real measures to remove the Heather dominance.

      • HotScot permalink
        July 1, 2018 11:24 pm


        George Monbiot has been preaching this for years about Scotland.

        I hate his naive politics, but he’s a zoologist and understands the environment.

        Acres of natural, mixed habitat, infested with Heather for the purposes of recreational pastimes of the privileged.

  2. Athelstan permalink
    July 1, 2018 2:09 pm

    Locals blamed a ban on controlled burning for the wild fire. It was issued to improve the scrubland’s ability to capture carbon from the air and so reduce pollution.

    “issued to improve the scrubland’s ability to capture carbon from the air and so reduce pollution.”

    that’s the BS pretext, no doubt behind it all, there is some EU environmental diktat ordaining that the creepy crawlies are too valuable and therefore take precendence over all else.
    Heather moorlands and land drainage should also be investigated, the grips drained the upper peat areas making for more suitable habitat – for ling and thus environs suitable moorland heather dwelling bird species.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      July 1, 2018 6:25 pm

      It’s a major piece of bullshit, Athelstan, because it is dangerous nonsense and needs to be rebutted every time it appears. So if anyone on here reads the Express, go to it.

      “It was issued to improve the scrubland’s ability to capture carbon from the air and so reduce pollution.” — Unscientific claptrap. Scrubland does not “capture carbon” from the air. Plants absorb carbon dioxide (not “carbon”) which is not a pollutant. Any carbon-based “pollution” in the atmosphere is not going to be removed by any amount of scrubland.

      I know you all on here know this but it does no harm to keep repeating it until the media get the message and the evironmental crackpots — the RSPB well-ensconced in the top half-dozen — are brought to heel (and reality, though that might take longer).

      • HotScot permalink
        July 1, 2018 11:27 pm

        Mike Jackson

        We are all in thrall to minority group politics. Our government is overrun by the buggers, and the majority haven’t a look in. That’s how socialism gets it’s foot in the door.

      • Bloke down the pub permalink
        July 2, 2018 9:49 am

        The carbon capture they refer to is in the form of peat. I’ve seen reported elsewhere that peat bog is one of the most threatened natural environments globally and I have no problem with the RSPB or anyone else taking steps to promote the growth of new bog and the diversity it will bring. What is typical, unfortunately, is the total disregard for the risks faced when banning long practiced intervention.

  3. quaesoveritas permalink
    July 1, 2018 2:16 pm

    There is mention of someone being arrested for arson, in connection with the fires:

  4. July 1, 2018 4:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    The RSPB long ago stopped caring about birds in favour of anything to save the planet from climate change.

    • David Richardson permalink
      July 2, 2018 7:23 am

      Yes The Royal Society for The Prevention of Birds.

  5. john cheshire permalink
    July 1, 2018 6:03 pm

    RSPB,RSPCA,NSPCC, they’ve all been infiltrated by collectivists. I wouldn’t give any of them my spit. Or, to be topical, I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire.

  6. sensferguson permalink
    July 1, 2018 6:07 pm

    Considering the mess the RSPB made of the Somerset Levels, why are we taking any notice of them?

    • July 1, 2018 7:14 pm

      Because the BBC loves the RSPB (regardless of the harm the RSPB does) and all its climate change nonsense and therefore we have to put up with the propaganda.

  7. FrankSW permalink
    July 1, 2018 8:22 pm

    Not quite on topic but the Guardian has highlighgted breathing problems from biomass plants in the US

  8. July 1, 2018 8:50 pm

    The concept of not burning to store more carbon is not actually a ludicrous one, if that is your bag. On the face of it a tree has more carbon in it than half a dozen heather bushes.

    Heather is loaded with volatile oils that burn readily. In the non-managed world, a wildfire sparked by lightning kills plants that are not adapted to burning, while heather grows back readily from the rootstock.

    If you engage in managed burning, you encourage a fire-adapted community of plants to develop, usually dominated by heather. Which also burns readily if you do not regularly burn it to prevent it becoming excessively woody etc.

    The bottom line is that the heather-clad hills are an artifact of management – they are in no way a natural situation.

    Now, there is a problem if you wish to revert the heather-clad hills to what they looked like before humans arrived (i.e. woodland, even to the tops of mountains, or what we laughingly call mountains in England). This is that you go through a stage where you have very leggy heather with high potential for serious wildfires. If you get an ignition source, it goes up readily enough. But if you get to the stage where trees shade out the heather, the potential for wildfires shrinks to next to nothing.

    I think firebreaks were the answer here.

    • roger permalink
      July 1, 2018 9:42 pm

      Firebreaks made by controlled burning perhaps?
      There’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, dear Liza………………

    • HotScot permalink
      July 1, 2018 11:29 pm


      Informed opinion. Thank you.

  9. July 2, 2018 6:21 am

    We have the same stupidity in California which is why we have so many fires.

    • July 2, 2018 11:16 am

      I suspect that the moorlands like the Mediterranean Sclerophyll Forests (chaparral) in California are basically fire-maintained areas. The same is true for some of the Southern Appalachian mountain grass balds and shrub balds.

      Fires due to lightening swept across the ridges frequently. Thus they were swift and did not kill the root systems of those adapted plants. However, when you prevent the fires a heavy litter layer builds up allowing for more damaging fire.

      This has been the picture in California for decades. In fact, the vegetation buildup is so great that the small mammals which are supposed to be protected by fire suppression, actually leave as they do not thrive in dense vegetation.

      Control by emotional environmentalists always leads to disaster for that they seek to set in stone.

      • Sheri permalink
        July 2, 2018 12:16 pm

        California burns every year. As do most of the Western states. I think that much of the increased wailing is due to humans living in areas that burn over and over (all those habitat destroying subdivisions the states love). Plus, California is insane with its practices—no clearing around homes, etc. I believe Australia has the same rules. This means the government of the state or country is actively in favor of burning homes to the ground and having people die. It is insane, but these crazies are elected and I have to assume slighlty over half the people want this. What is one to do?

      • July 3, 2018 11:04 am

        Sheri– my niece and her husband live on a knoll in Carpenteria on 8 acres. They almost lost their home in December. They were evacuated in the middle of the night. As Lynn said, “as we sped away the trucks were coming up our driveway. I knew I would never see my home again.” However, they stopped the fire at the bottom of the ridge and they had no damage. Then the rains brought logs down onto their place. Below the house is a flat with a car barn. The mud took off the doors and there were logs inside. The clean-up crews had to find places for their equipment for clearing out streams, etc. and came to them. They said they would clear their place if they could use it to stage their operations. Could they!! When I spoke with Lynn, she was baking cookies for the workers.

        A number of years ago she was on the board for the local botanical garden. They wanted to make some improvements, but he local eco-nuts went wild. It nearly drove Lynn crazy dealing with them. She has far more patience than do I.

        As a botanist interested in plant geography, these folks do far more damage than good to the environment they claim to help.

  10. Sheri permalink
    July 2, 2018 12:12 pm

    The greatest threat to the environment is environmentalists.

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