Dorset Council looking at options to ban disposable barbecues

The first step towards controlling or prohibiting the use of disposable barbecues in the local area is being taken by Dorset Council, following the devastating fire in Wareham Forest that was started by a disposable barbecue and ended up destroying 220 hectares of heath and woodland.

The plan is to seek agreement at the next Dorset Council’s cabinet meeting to get council officials to work with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and other key stakeholders, to look at ways to control or prohibit the use of disposable barbecues in the local area.

Wareham Forest fire
Wareham Fire Station
Swanage fire crew damping down the forest
Swanage Fire Station

The recent fire in Wareham Forest destroyed 220 hectares of heath and woodland

Enforcement options

A range of enforcement options and other alternatives to control or prohibit barbecues and other fire-related activities, are on the table to be explored.

However where rules already exist concerning the use of disposable barbecues, they are often ignored. In Studland, the Swanage Fire crew and Swanage Coastguard have recently had to put out numerous illegal barbecues on the beach, despite the land being privately owned by the National Trust.

Shell Bay Beach fire extinguished by Swanage fire crew
Swanage Fire Station

Swanage Fire crew extinguishing an illegal campfire on the beach at Studland

“We need a consistent approach which works across the whole area…”

Councillor Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“We were all saddened by the fire at Wareham Forest this spring. Not only was it devastating for the forest’s wildlife and habitat, it risked human life and would have been horrendous for the wider environment due to the resulting smoke.

“We need a consistent approach which works across the whole area to prevent this happening again. This is a complex issue, for example we cannot risk pushing the problem to land managed by organisations which may not have the resources or enforcement powers in place to prohibit activities which present a fire risk. We need an approach that works across the area.

“The development of the options paper would enable us to understand how we can work effectively to cover all areas. We know we have wider support amongst Dorset residents to introduce new measures to help prevent further devastating fires like the recent one in Wareham, so now it’s up to us to establish what we can do.”

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