The use of fire has been a significant land management practice in the UK for centuries as a mechanism for managing vegetation. Heather and grass burning is still carried out, primarily for encouraging new growth.
Within the North Pennines, most prescribed burning is conducted on heather moorland by game keepers to create mosaics of different-aged heather for grouse management purposes.
Burning may only take place during the burning season, which runs from 1st October – 15th April within the North Pennines. Burning outside of this period can only be conducted under licence from Natural England.
The Heather and Grass Burning Code and the Heather and Grass Burning Regulations apply to the burning of heather, rough grass, gorse, bracken and other heath shrub species within England.
The Code outlines a standard of good practice to help land managers burn safely and responsibly. It identifies that local Fire and Rescue Service Control is to be informed whenever burning is to take place. In this way, the Fire and Rescue Service can validate any smoke and fire reports received on any given day during the burning season.
If you see smoke or fire within the burning season, it is important to report it unless you are totally confident that there are people in attendance and it is under control. If in doubt, call 999.
Further information about upland management and the use of burning can be viewed from the Natural England web link below.