July 6th 2018
For well over a week now Saddleworth Moor near Oldham and Winter Hill, close to Bolton have been ablaze. Fire services from 7 neighbouring counties and the army have been drafted in to control the blaze but due to unseasonably dry conditions and a natural store of carbon-heavy peat the fires have burned on. Homes in nearby villages have been evacuated whilst others have been issued health warnings to keep their windows closed and remain inside on the hottest week of the year. This is devastating news, not only for those who live nearby but for the local wildlife and environment.
Even more heartbreaking is the news that the fires are being treated as an act of arson and elsewhere on nearby moors people have been spotted suspected of starting additional fires.
Only a few weeks ago, Director of IPPR North Sarah Longlands wrote in this newsletter about the importance of the North’s natural assets. The north’s natural beauty and the benefits to quality of life that living near outdoor spaces can bring are often touted as a key reason for people and businesses to move to the Northern Powerhouse. But whilst workers from elsewhere will head up for North to for weekends walking and camping on our moors and peaks, those that live nearby are often isolated from enjoying their benefits to the extent that they would seek to destroy them.
It really should be a national scandal that this is still ongoing. Whilst wildfires in the UK are nothing new, destruction of this scale has been unknown for a long time and has been exacerbated by the effect of manmade climate change, causing unseasonably dry weather and by human acts of wanton destruction.
Yet whilst the moors burn at a rate of around 7 square miles per day, the state of the lawns at Wimbledon and fears of a hosepipe ban have been more of a daily news feature in our national press. If this was the Chiltern Hills I suspect the situation would be very different.
SIMON COLLINGWOOD, Quatro North, 07427 228288
Read the full Northern Powerhouse round up here.