UK’s protected peatlands being hit by illegal fires, finds new report

An investigation by Greenpeace suggests more than 250 fires took place over six months despite the new ban

Some of the UK’s protected peatlands allegedly continue to be burnt down despite the government ban.

That’s according to research carried out by Greenpeace’s investigative team Unearthed which found 251 peatland burning incidents took place between 1st October 2021 and 15th April 2o22.

The study, which analysed satellite data by NASA and the European Space Agency, suggests one-in-five of these burns was on land protected by multiple conservation designations.

This land had been identified on Natural England’s map as ‘deep peat, the researchers have said.

Last year, the government announced a partial ban on the burning of blanket bogs, one of three types of peatland.

The British Ecological Society had previously hailed peatlands as ‘carbon storage supertars’.

The University of Leicester had also estimated half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by improving peatland management.

A Defra spokesperson told ELN: “We are investigating potential breaches of the heather and peat burning regulations and cannot comment further while investigations are ongoing.

“The government and Natural England continue to work with landowners to promote sustainable upland management practices, backed up by a record funding to protect and restore England’s iconic peat landscapes.”

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