Ban on campfires could be introduced in Cairngorms National Park

Consultation period to begin in January following wildfire earlier this year that destroyed a vast swathe of countryside.

A ban on campfires could be introduced in the Cairngorms National Park.

The aim is to protect people, wildlife and woodland from the sort of wildfire that destroyed a vast swathe of countryside at Cannich, west of Loch Ness, in May and June this year.

Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) chiefs, meeting in Grantown, have agreed to hold a public consultation on the issue before considering a bylaw.

Chief executive Grant Moir said: “I think we’re all aware that action needs to be taken in terms that (we know) wildfire risk is going up.

“Climate modelling shows it’s going to increase over the years and we want to make sure we’re in the right place to do something about that and have the right tools in place.”

The park is home to 19,000 people and attracts about two million visitors a year. Its rangers have dealt with 219 active fires so far in 2023.

New legislation is currently being drafted to cover controlled moorland burning.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service area commander Michael Humphreys said: “We continue to work closely with our partner agencies and welcome appropriate measures that help to mitigate the risk of wildfires and keep our communities and environments safe from harm.

“We want people to have an enjoyable and safe experience outdoors. However, responsible human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a fire starting.

“We always ask people to act safely outdoors, and always follow the Scottish outdoor access code.”

It is likely to be 2025 before a bylaw would take effect and Scottish Government ministers would need to approve it.

A ten-week consultation period is set to begin in January.

The CNPA is setting out three potential options that will form the basis of the consultation including the possibility of a year-round fire management bylaw to restrict fires – with certain exceptions.

A further proposal is for a time-limited fire management bylaw that would apply only at times of high fire-risk.

A third option is to not introduce a bylaw but to continue to develop “a robust communications and education programme”.

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