Heather burning and Moorland Fire Fighting insurance

August 9th 2017

The heather burning season will soon be upon us. In upland areas it runs from 1st October to 15th April and in all other areas from 1st November to 31st March. This type of deliberate management is not, however, the only cause of accidental moorland fires. Extremes of weather and the irresponsible actions of the public are also a major cause. With the number of moorland fires on the rise, insuring against the cost of fire-fighting services in the event of an emergency is advisable and a specialist Moorland Fire Fighting insurance policy will ensure all aspects of the clear up are covered.

It is always worth checking on the current rules relating to heather burning or risk a fine of up to £1,000. For example, you will face prosecution if caught burning outside of the statutory dates or without a relevant licence if required. Also for burning during non-daylight hours and in unsuitable weather conditions. Clear guidelines and how to obtain a license are laid out on the Government website with further advice available from the Uplands Management Group.

Even the best planned heather burn can, however, get out of hand and it is good practice to have an emergency plan in place. Having the correct control and safety equipment on hand is imperative, and failure to do so may result in prosecution for staff and landowners.

Mitigating the risk posed by extreme weather and the general public is difficult but regular patrols and warning notices with contact numbers for reporting fires is generally helpful. Joining with other landowners is another option and membership may be advisable.

Landowners in some moorland areas run fire protection groups, giving access to additional resources and up-to-date information on current legislation and burning dates. Such groups regularly run training exercises and will help in compiling the best possible estate response plan should disaster occur, linking it to local fire fighting services and resources. These groups are in touch with valuable local service providers such as helicopter services which can be put on standby should a fire take hold.

Good moorland management can also assist in controlling wild fires; using features such as ponds and scrapes which provide fire breaks.

The hire cost of specialist services is substantial, running at around £10,000 per day. At Lycetts we offer specialist Moorland Fire Fighting insurance which includes cover for fire-fighting costs, extinguishing fire on a client’s moorland and preventing the spread of fire from neighbouring land. Anyone interested in costing such cover should get in touch.

 

James Cuthbertson

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