Marsden Moor is the tinder box of the South Pennines and regularly goes up in flames for a whole host of reasons. Many of these are historical – woodland clearance, pollution from the industrial revolution and over grazing. Add in a bit of global warming and we’ve the perfect storm of neglect just waiting for a disposable barbie, tab end or some fool from Huddersfield with a firework.
As a result of these regular moorland fires the whole area is covered by Public Space Protection Orders banning campfires, barbies etc. A very sensible move which should be strictly enforced at all times. Ongoing education of the public is arguably more important for the long term future of the moor.
This week has seen an unprecedented fire risk in the Peak District and the National Park Authority have closed all Crow Act access land. They have reportedly advised the National Trust Marsden Moor estate to close all access land on Trust property and this was announced yesterday on social media.
There is a but coming and it’s an important one because it shows a lack of understanding of the basis for public access to Marsden Moor from both the Peak Park and National Trust. The implication of this is that both these organisations are relying on closure of the moor in extreme conditions when they cannot in fact do this. How then are they managing the fire risks ?
Marsden Moor is what is known as section 15 land and it cannot be closed under the mechanisms of the Crow Act which is what the Peak Park have advised! Section 15 land predates the crow act and recognises long standing public rights. Marsden Moor is an urban common and cannot be closed. How can the Peak Park and National Trust not know or choose to ignore this?
From Foot & Mouth through to Covid the knee jerk reaction of authority is to close the countryside to walkers. No one having a quiet walk on Marsden Moor is a fire risk but the public must be stopped!
Much of what organisations like the Peak Park, Nationl Trust or Kirklees put out for public consumption via social media is not based in reality. The sweeping closure of Marsden Moor yesterday was fake. It distracted from the real fire risks that do exist and sought to ban putting one foot in front of the other on the moor without any basis in either law or evidence.