Tags: Wales

Operation Dawns Glaw: Enhancing fire safety in Wales’ countryside

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Collaborative Efforts to Reduce Grass Fires in Wales

Operation Dawns Glaw, a multi-agency task force of specialists from key agencies across Wales, has reformed with the objective of reducing, and where possible, eliminating the impact of grass fires across the region.

The task force, initially established in 2016, has focused on tackling deliberately set grass fires and is now also addressing the increase in accidental fires, often resulting from careless behaviour in the countryside.

In 2023, Welsh fire services responded to 1,880 grassfire incidents, marking a 45% decrease compared to the previous year, with deliberate grass fires dropping by 1,059 (45%) to 1,301.

This effort is part of a broader initiative to protect thousands of hectares of countryside, open space, and wildlife habitats, alongside the aim to build a healthier, resilient, and biodiverse Welsh countryside.

Community Engagement and Sustainable Practices

Peter Greenslade, Chair of Operation Dawns Glaw, emphasized the importance of collaboration in protecting the Welsh landscape: “We launch our campaign again this year on St David’s Day, with a patriotic plea that we all continue to work together to build a healthier and more resilient Welsh landscape, by developing a more biodiverse countryside for our future.

“We want to continue to protect our landscapes, green grassland, and countryside that we are all so fortunate to have on our doorstep.”

Greenslade also highlighted the role of controlled burns in creating a sustainable ecosystem: “We understand that controlled burns can have a positive effect on the environment, creating biodiversity and a sustainable eco system and we are available for free advice on how to do this safely.”

He further reminded the community of the legal implications of deliberate fires, noting the strain they place on frontline services and the risks they pose to communities.

Legal Responsibilities and Guidance for Landowners

The Operation continues its engagement with farmers and landowners, offering guidance on legal burning practices.

While burning of heather, grass, bracken, and gorse is permitted until 15 March (31 March in upland areas), it is mandatory to have a Burn Plan in place to ensure safe practices.

Burning outside the designated season is illegal and can result in penalties of up to £1,000.

IFSJ Comment

Operation Dawns Glaw’s renewed efforts in Wales signify a vital step in fire prevention and environmental protection.

The operation’s dual focus on reducing deliberate and accidental grass fires aligns with the broader goal of fostering a healthy, resilient, and biodiverse countryside.

The emphasis on community engagement and education plays a critical role in this initiative.

This collaborative approach between agencies, communities, and landowners is key to maintaining the natural beauty and ecological balance of Wales’ countryside.

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