NEW rules to ban barbecues, fireworks and other fire hazards on Bradford’s moorland could be implemented in weeks.

After a number of devastating fires on Ilkley Moor in recent weeks, some of which were thought to have been caused by irresponsible use of disposable BBQs, there were calls by West Yorkshire Fire to get tougher on people whose reckless acts could severely damage the important moorland and put nearby homes at risk.

At a meeting of Bradford Council today the issue was added to the agenda as an emergency item, and Councillors voted to implement a Public Space Protection Order in an attempt to prevent future fires.

The order will ban “the lighting of fires; barbecues; Chinese lanterns; fireworks or using any article/object which causes a naked flame and which poses a risk of fire on the districts moorland - including Ilkley Moor, Baildon Moor and Haworth Moor.

Anyone caught breaking the order will be committing a crime, and would be forced to pay a fine of up to £100.

Members of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee voted to approve the order at a meeting yesterday. It will now go out to a four week public consultation. The Council usually holds six week public consultations on public space protection orders, but the meeting was told that it was important the order is implemented as soon as possible - so it would be in place in time for the summer.

People light barbecues on Ilkley Moor with fire still ongoing

It will last until 2022 - after which it could be renewed.

The Council had been contacted by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer John Roberts, who had said the service had an “exceptionally busy” Easter period due to moorland fires.

Referring to major fires on Ilkley Moor, he said: “It is almost certain that these fires, and many smaller ones that haven’t made the news, were started either deliberately or by the careless use of disposable BBQs and other small fires.

“The impact on local communities can be considerable, as can the impact on both the natural environment and the local economy where fires occur, in areas where visitors may spend time, such as Ilkley Moor.”

The most recent fire on Ilkley Moor took place on Saturday.

Keighley's MP John Grogan said: "I am delighted that Bradford Council has moved swiftly to consult on the outlawing of barbecues on Ilkley Moor. The episode on Saturday morning reinforces the need for urgent action. There are legal procedures which must be followed but it would be good to get the ban in place by July if at all possible."

WYFRS District Commander for Bradford, Benjy Bush, said: “We want the public to be able to enjoy the countryside this Summer and we do not wish to ruin anyone’s fun. However, the impact of wildfires on local communities can be considerable, as can the impact on both the natural environment and the local economy where fires occur in areas where visitors may spend time. We welcome this move by Bradford Council to help protect our countryside.

“Fires on moorland can spread incredibly quickly and pose an immediate threat to anyone in the nearby area and potentially could threaten nearby properties.

“The recent fires have taken a considerable amount of Fire Service time and resources to extinguish. We have seen a handful of these types of fires already this year and as we approach the late May bank holiday we once again ask members of the public to be vigilant if they are planning activities outdoors.”

The consultation on the introduction of the PSPO will be available on the Council’s Consultations website on Tuesday 21 May and will be open until midnight on 18 June.