Peak District officials ask shops to ban sale of disposable barbecues after wildfires outbreak

Max Stephens
Fires in the Peak District

National Park officials have asked retailers in and around the Peak District to stop the sale of disposable barbecues following an outbreak of wildfires.

Barbecues have been identified as the cause of two "catastrophic" blazes that raged on moors and parkland in Derbyshire last week.

It comes as experts warn unusually dry moorlands brought about following Britain's sunniest ever spring have created a "perfect storm of conditions for fires".

The Peak District National Park (PDNA) has urged more than 160 retailers ranging from village stores to supermarkets within the National Park and on its boundaries to cease selling instant barbecues.

Around a dozen businesses confirmed they have complied with the request.

Officials in the Peak District added they have contacted the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) with the aim of widening the scheme to include all of Britain's 15 national parks.

The Peak District National Park Authority said it was yet to hear back from the government. A Defra spokesman told the Telegraph:

“Loving our countryside means respecting it and not recklessly putting our precious wildlife at risk."

“Everyone should follow the Countryside Code and not light fires or use disposable barbecues which can be devastating to people, property and habitats.”

The intervention comes days after firefighters tackled two fires on the Peak District, which witnesses claim caused "massive damage" to the countryside.

On Saturday, a fire broke out on Bamford Moor which was so widespread that firefighters and gamekeepers finished dampening down patches of scorched moorland three days later. Eyewitnesses claimed the blaze was caused by a discarded barbecue.

While on Monday, a large fire erupted at Swineshaw Reservoir in Glossop which was believed to have been started in the same way.

In a statement following the callout, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue warned people: "Our message remains the same - please do not have bbq's [sic] in the countryside."

Recent easing of lockdown measures has led to an "associated increase" in the use of disposable barbecues in open areas, according to Peak District officials.

The authority has said it feared wildfires could become a "daily occurrence" unless action is taken.

Rules state barbecues are not permitted in areas of open countryside outside of designated areas in the Peak District.

An online petition calling for the ban on the sale of all disposal barbecues on the change.org website has so far reached more than 18,000 signatures since it was launched four days ago.

Rebecca Oakley, who founded the petition, said she had seen a "massive increase" in the amount of people visiting the Peak District coming from nearby cities such as Manchester and Sheffield.

Miss Oakley, from Tideswell, Derbys, added that she decided to launch the petition out of concerns for the safety of her friends and family, many of whom are employed as farmers and firefighters

"My brother-in-law is a retained firefighter along with quite a few of my close friends.  Last weekend has been particularly bad. They have hardly been at home and have been called out four or five times to different moor fires," she said.

"The fires have caused massive damage to the moorland my family farm on. Something has got to change. We have to stop destroying the countryside and the moorland."