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Calls for lantern festival to be scrapped as moors fires devastation revealed
Friday 29th June 2018 @ 18:21 by Nigel Skinner
Buxton Gamesley Glossop Glossop Chronicle High Peak News Peak District

Gamekeepers fighting in the front line to combat the Saddleworth Moor wildfire have called for a lantern festival to be scrapped as the devastation to wildlife becomes apparent following the blazes.

Keepers who have been on the Arnfield moor all week are reporting a catastrophic loss of species.

The before and after of such a huge fire is ‘truly horrendous’, says Richard Bailey, moorland gamekeeper and member of the Peak District Moorland Group.

He said: “Trying to prevent and control wildfires is a huge task and we have to use all the expertise that we, the gamekeeping community, have built up over centuries.”

“We need to manage these complex moorlands sympathetically. This includes mowing alongside carefully burning the heather in a controlled way in the winter. This creates fire breaks and reduces the fuel load for wildfires in the summer. This is a proven technique which is constantly modernised and has widespread scientific support.”

On the back of the terrible loss of precious habitat and wildlife in the Saddleworth wildfire, the Moorland Association, the body who represent English grouse moor owners, has called for a forthcoming Chinese lantern festival in the Peak District to be cancelled.

Lights Fest, due to be held in Dale Head near Buxton on July 28, poses a significant danger to the surrounding moorland given the recent dry and hot weather conditions says Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association.

She said: “After what we have seen this past week it is a recipe for disaster. The lanterns look very pretty going up but when they come down they could very easily start another fire and the wire left behind is very damaging to livestock.”

“I call on the festival’s organisers to bow to common sense and cancel the Lights Fest to minimise the risks of any further devastating wildfires.”