The burning of heather and grass is governed principally by the Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007 and the Hill Farming Act 1946.
The following legislation is also relevant to the burning of heather and grass:
- The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits burning which disturbs or destroys wild birds or other protected animals, plants and habitats and in some cases burning on a Site of Special Scientific Interest without Natural England’s consent;
- The Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c) Regulations 1994;
- The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974;
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998;
- The Environment Protection Act 1990;
- The Water Resources Act 1991;
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979;
- The Highways Act 1980.
There is also a Heather and Grass Burning Code 2007 which, whilst not legally binding, outlines good practice on the burning of heather and grass.
When do the Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007 apply?
The Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007 do not apply to land cultivated as private gardens or to allotments. Some of the Regulations do not apply to the burning of vegetation covered by the Regulations carried out on railway land by or under the authority of Network Rail or Transport for London.
What does the Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007 prohibit?
The Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007 prohibits:
- the commencement of the burning of heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium (such vegetation is referred to in the Regulations as “specified vegetation”) on land between sunset and sunrise; the burning of specified vegetation where there are insufficient persons and/ or equipment to control and regulate the burning during the entire period of the operation; the burning of any specified vegetation outside of the “burning season” without a licence (The burning season for land which is situated within an “upland area” is from 1 October to 15 April and for other land is from 1 November and 31 March. In order to check whether land is situated in an upland area it is necessary to check the “Volume of maps of less-favoured farming areas in England” which is held by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs); the burning, without a licence, of any specified vegetation in a single area during the burning season, or in two or more areas within 5 metres of each other with a combined area of more than 0.5 hectares if the land has a slope of more than 45 degrees or if more than half of the land is covered by exposed rock or scree; the burning, without a licence, in a single burn an areas of more than 10 hectares of specified vegetation; the burning, without a licence, of specified vegetation during the burning season in a manner which exposes a single area, or two or more areas within 5 metres of each other with a combined area of more than 0.5 hectares of bare soil or an “area of bare soil” which extends more than 25 metres along the bank of a “watercourse” and is more than a metre wide at all points (for a continuous stretch of more than 25 metres), measured from the edge of the bank of the watercourse (an area of bare soil means an area of soil of which no more than 2% is covered by vegetation or plant litter.
For more information on:
- Failure to comply with the Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007