The council is proposing to put a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in place to prevent people taking part in activities which increase the risk of wildfires in publicly-accessible moorland. These include:
- Disposable barbeques
- Fires and fireworks
The proposals would cover all publicly-accessible moorland areas (subject to the agreement of private landowners).
What is a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)?
Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. The act gives the local authorities and other local agencies a range of powers that they can use to respond to anti-social behaviour.
The aim of the PSPO was to provide local authorities with the necessary powers to introduce restrictions upon activity and behaviours deemed to be anti-social and occurring in public spaces.
In order to put a PSPO in place, an activity must have “a detrimental effect upon the quality of life of those in the locality”, be “persistent or continuing” in nature and “unreasonable”.
Why are we proposing this?
The purpose of the proposed PSPO is to reduce the risk of wildfires and the damage that they cause in Barnsley.
Barbeques, fires and fireworks, and all have the potential to cause wildfires.
At particular risk of fire is Barnsley’s peat moorlands. These function as an important carbon store – globally, peatlands store approximately double the amount of carbon that is stored in all the world’s forests (UN Global Peatlands Initiative). Healthy peatlands which are in a good condition absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Maintaining our peatlands in a good condition helps us to ensure this carbon stays stored within the ground. Unhealthy, damaged peatlands emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Protecting our peatlands is an essential part of our progress towards a net-zero carbon borough.
Peatlands also help:
- retain water on higher ground and reduce the risk of flooding
- assist in keeping water where it’s needed at times of drought
- provide important habitats for plant species and birds such as the golden plover, short-eared owl and merlin.
There are other reasons why it is important to protect peatlands from fires. Recent fires in neighbouring authorities have caused great costs to landowners and emergency services.
Disposable barbeques, fires and fireworks also have the potential to impact on other important habitats in the borough, including forests, grasslands, wetlands and urban green spaces.
Smoke from wildfires can also have a negative impact on air quality many miles away.
What would be the impact of the PSPO?
The PSPO would mean that anyone lighting a fire, fireworks or disposable barbeque in publicly-accessible moorland areas would be committing a criminal offence.
PSPOs can potentially be enforced by both authorised local authority personnel and the police. Any breach of the order is a criminal offence which can be discharged via fixed penalty notice (£100) or up to £1,000 fine upon prosecution.
We want your views on the proposed Public Space Protection Order
Please answer the questions on the following pages to give us your views. Please note that we may choose to publish the results of this consultation, but that responses will remain anonymous.
If you know someone who needs help completing the survey online, please request support from our digital champions for guidance over the phone. http://my.barnsley.gov.uk/form/Request-digital-support