A council is set to approve new orders surrounding wildfires in public open spaces. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has drawn up a new Public Spaces Protection Order (wildfires) 2021 order which is set to be decided upon through 'Cabinet Delegated Decisions' by SMDC cabinet portfolio holder for communities councillor Mike Bowen.
A council is set to approve new orders surrounding wildfires in public open spaces.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has drawn up a new Public Spaces Protection Order (wildfires) 2021 order which is set to be decided upon through ‘Cabinet Delegated Decisions’ by SMDC cabinet portfolio holder for communities councillor Mike Bowen.
Under the terms and restrictions of the proposed Public Spaces Protection Order the following will be prohibited: a) Lighting a fire of any type or size in the Restricted Area without the prior written consent of the district council.
b) Using any article or object which causes a naked flame and thereby poses a risk of fire without the prior written consent of the district council.
c) Possessing or lighting a barbecue in the Restricted Area without the prior written consent of the District Council.
d) Possessing, lighting or releasing a firework in the Restricted Area without the prior written consent of the district council.
e) Possessing, lighting or releasing a Chinese/sky lantern or other open flame heat-source lantern in the Restricted Area without the prior written consent of the district council.
The proposed order is set to apply to: “all parts of the district of Staffordshire Moorlands that: lie within the boundary of the Peak District National Park and/or is land owned by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, and are open to the air, and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access (with or without payment).
“This includes access land as defined in Section 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 but excludes any licensed campsites or caravan sites, or land which is occupied by an organisation which holds a valid certificate of exemption.”
In a report to cllr Bowen, principal officer for communities and partnerships, David Smith, states: “On 1 December 2020, the Cabinet considered the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to help prevent fires in grass and moorland areas. The draft PSPO had been considered at the Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel on November 23, 2020.
“After considering the draft Order, the accompanying report and comments from the Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel, the Cabinet agreed: That the conduct of the necessary consultation, publication and notification in relation to the draft Order appended to the report be agreed; and That the approval of the draft Order be made by way of a Delegated Cabinet Decision unless the responses from the consultation necessitate material changes to the draft Order.”
Mr Smith went on to state: “The council has now carried out a consultation on the proposed PSPO and the responses are outlined in this report.
“It is suggested that none of the responses necessitate material changes to the draft Order and that the new Order can now be introduced by way of a Delegated Cabinet Decision.”
Within the report, Mr Smith sets out the responses the consultation had gained.
For the Peak District National Park Authority, he stated: “The PDNPA welcomed working in partnership to reduce the risk of wildfires; however, they questioned whether the introduction of a PSPO is needed. PDNPA pointed to their existing bylaws to prevent fires introduced under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000. They also raised the difficulties of enforcing an Order and highlighted their lack of resource to enforce the current byelaws.”
Meanwhile, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue responded in support of the proposed order; and so too did the Staffordshire Police, and Mr Smith stated that within his response the Police and Crime Commissioner stated: “he was broadly in support of the proposed Order. However, he suggested that SMDC’s proposed Order goes further than comparable orders by seeking to prohibit possessing barbecues, fireworks or lanterns in the Restricted Area.
“He expressed a concern that “the simple act of possessing an item goes beyond what could be enforceable and possibly infringes on civil liberties disproportionally, so would be difficult to police in practice. This could criminalise those who might have no intention to light an item within the Restricted Area, or even those simply traversing in a vehicle through the Restricted Area.”
Moving onto residents’ responses, Mr Smith said: “One resident commented on the problems caused by pop-up campsites and the nuisance that can be caused by campfires. They also asked whether motor caravan owners would be prevented from using gas stoves within their vehicles (the restriction would not apply since motor caravans are not open to the air and the public are not entitled to enter).
“They also asked whether the PSPO would prevent smoking cigarettes in high risk areas or would restrict people from lighting candles in acts of remembrance at cemeteries or other such public places. Such activities would only be caught by the PSPO if they posed a risk of fire, which would not normally be the case if the cigarettes and candles used safely and disposed of appropriately.”
Mr Smith continued: “Another resident also raised the issue of campsites and argued that campfires and fire pits should be banned in all locations and that more should be done to ensure compliance with all regulations on licensed campsites.
“The PSPO is aimed at preventing wildfires and would prevent fires and fire pits in most locations. It is not suggested that the prohibitions be extended to licensed campsite, or to land occupied by exempted organisations such as the Guides or Scouts, because the use of such sites is supervised and the restriction would be unreasonable and generally not necessary to prevent wildfires.”
Anyone wishing to read the full report about the consultation surrounding the SMDC’s new Public Spaces Protection Order (wildfires) 2021 order can do so by going online to: https://democracy.highpeak.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=1961&x=1.
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