Warning After Man Fined for Unlicensed Heath Burning

People are being warned about the consequences and dangers of unlicensed burning of registered heath, after a local man was prosecuted.

Under the legislation a licence must be obtained from the gov to burn or destroy registered heath.

Henry Joseph Bridson, 42 and from Dalby, admitted setting fire to an area of registered heathland, without a license, near Dalby Mountain on 10 February. Mr Bridson is the first person to be prosecuted under the Heath Burning Act 2003 and was fined £1,200.

Martyn Perkins MHK, political member for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘Our upland heath provides valuable and internationally significant habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species such as breeding hen harrier and curlew. Upland peat soils are also the Island’s largest carbon store and this important resource can be damaged by inappropriate burning. This prosecution is the first relating to this legislation and sends out an important message about the importance of protecting our Biosphere.’ 

Anyone wishing to carry out prescribed burning should first contact DEFA to apply for a licence and can do so by calling 695701 or by emailing forestry@gov.im.

Kevin Groom, Chief Fire Officer, added: ‘ A poorly planned or ill prepared approach to prescribed burning can quickly get out of control and endanger people, wildlife and the environment. Additionally, a developing heathland fire can very quickly cause an impact upon the limited staff and resources of the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service.’

The Isle of Man was the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to regulate prescribed burning by way of licensing and the maximum fine for burning or destroying registered heath without one is £10,000. Registered heath covers around 12% of the island and is characterised by low growing shrubs such as heather, blaeberry and western gorse. 

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