Public warned against hill fires risk

With warm, dry weather forecast to continue, visitors to Edinburgh’s parks, woodlands and nature reserves are being urged to take care to avoid the risk of fire.

Extra caution is advised in areas like the Pentland Hills, Corstorphine Hill Local Nature Reserve and Easter Craiglockhart Hill Local Nature Reserve, which are vulnerable to hill fires.

Natural Heritage Officers have reminded the public of the speed at which sparks or small flames can escalate, causing severe damage to local greenery and wildlife. This was the case at Hillend on the Pentland Hills last weekend, when a fire spread across an area of gorse bushes, while just this week a fire took hold at Clubbiedean.

People are asked to ‘leave no trace’ after spending time in one of the sites by clearing away any rubbish, disposing of cigarettes safely and refraining from using barbecues or building campfires.

Transport and Environment Vice Convener, Councillor Karen Doran, said: “We’re lucky to have such a diverse landscape here in Edinburgh, with parks, nature reserves and green spaces spanning the city, from the outskirts to the centre.

“While it’s fantastic that so many people are able to enjoy these spots during the sunny weather, it’s important that we take extra care when visiting, in order to keep spaces safe and welcoming for everyone, and the wildlife that lives there.”

Mark Wrightham, Scottish Natural Heritage’s Recreation and Tourism Manager, said: “It’s great news that the warm, dry weather is encouraging more people to get out and about and enjoy our beautiful Scottish countryside. But it’s important to bear in mind that fires can spread quickly in these conditions and do lasting damage to nature and wildlife.

“At times of high risk, we advise people not to light fires, and consider using a camping stove instead. Be particularly cautious when disposing of cigarettes – even a cigarette butt can easily start a wildfire.

“One of the biggest risks is disposable barbecues. These should be taken away and disposed of safely in a bin. You may think the barbecue’s no longer a risk, but the lingering heat could cause vegetation to smoulder and catch fire.

“A few simple tips can make all the difference in making sure as many people as possible can enjoy our countryside safely.”  

Many of the city’s nature reserves and green spaces are home to ground-nesting birds, which settle in heather, gorse and low-lying dry shrubbery susceptible to catching fire resulting from unprotected flames. Causes include bonfires, cigarette butts or dropped bottles magnifying the sun.

Campfires are not permitted in woodland or shrubby areas - deliberate fire setting in current conditions is an offence and people should call the police on 101 if they witness an incident. If it looks like a fire might spread and cause a danger to surrounding land or property, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service should be contacted on 999.

Find out more about Edinburgh’s Natural Heritage Sites and the Pentlands Hills online.



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