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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Seasonal Fire Management Byelaw Agreed by Cairngorms National Park Authority Board

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The Park Authority board has agreed to the introduction of a seasonal fire management byelaw today at the June board meeting.

It would restrict recreational fires at a time of growing threats from changing weather patterns.

A 10-week consultation earlier this year received 1,664 responses from residents, businesses, land managers and visitors, with 79% of all respondents supporting the introduction of a fire management byelaw in the National Park.

The Park Authority carried out the consultation after its board agreed last year to consider the options for minimising the risks of wildfires starting, in a bid to reduce the risk to people, nature and property in the National Park.

Wildfire risk is increasing in Scotland and climate modelling shows a predicted increase in drought periods.

The Cairngorms National Park is home to 18,000 people and around two million people visit the area each year.

It is also home to 25% of the UK’s rare and endangered species and around half of Scotland’s ancient pinewoods.

Respondents to the consultation were made up of local residents (58%), visitors (31%), businesses (11%) and land managers / workers (10%)

Sandy Bremner, Convener at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said:

“We’re grateful to the more than 1,600 people who responded to the consultation earlier this year.

“It’s clear from these responses that there is strong support for a fire management byelaw, with 79% of people in favour.

“We considered a range of different options in terms of the type of byelaw to take forward.

We believe that a seasonal byelaw combines the best elements of what people were looking for – relative simplicity for communication and understanding, and not being too heavy handy in covering months when there is far less recreational fire activity.”

The Park Authority will now draw up draft wording for the byelaw based on consultation feedback, which will be subject to a formal public 12 week consultation in September this year, before the wording is finalised and submitted to Scottish Ministers for approval.

As part of the discussion, the board also agreed that a byelaw would not cover muirburn as the new national muirburn licencing conditions will cover muirburn during periods of high fire risk.

During the board meeting, an update on the Integrated Wildfire Management Plan was given by Colin McLean, Head of Land Management at the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

The creation of an Integrated Wildfire Management Plan is one of the actions in the latest National Park Partnership Plan.

A draft of the Integrated Wildfire Management Plan will be presented for discussion and agreement at the board meeting in November 2024, ahead of a public consultation in early 2025.

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