Paul Duncan, Area Manager, Natural England
Throughout the week, my team have been at Hatfield Moors near Doncaster, supporting South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service as they tackle a wildfire on site. Fire crews have been at the scene day and night since the fire was reported by a member of the public on Sunday evening and I’d like to thank them for their continued efforts to tackle the blaze.
Hatfield Moors is owned and managed by Natural England. It’s one of two sites that make up the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve. The other site, Thorne Moor has not been affected.
The location is usually a popular destination for hikers, dog walkers, runners or anyone wanting to relax in the beautiful, natural surroundings. However, while the fire service is responding we are urging members of the public not to visit the site. This is for your own safety and to allow fire crews to focus on the important task in hand. There are multiple fires burning on site and over the next few days we are expecting dry conditions, including sunny weather and strong winds, which mean there is potential for them to spread. This is why it’s important for people to keep clear for the time being.
Hatfield Moors is a large and remote area and Natural England teams have been helping fire crews to access difficult parts of the site throughout the week. We’ve provided advice to the fire service about potential areas of risk and have used our vehicles to move fire service equipment across the moor. Over the next couple of days we are funding helicopter water bombing of the site to help suppress the blaze.
The site is a designated Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation. This means that it’s the home to a number of protected, and in some cases threatened, birds and wildlife. On this site that includes Nightjars, adders and a number of important plants and invertebrates. You may have also seen local news reports of a tiny roe deer kid who was saved from the fire on Thursday. As well as ensuring that people keep safely away from the fire, we are also very concerned about the impact it will have on the site’s wildlife and habitats. The site is also the largest area of lowland peat bog in England and work has been underway to restore it since 2014. Peatlands are particularly important carbon stores and restoring their condition will contribute to reducing carbon emissions.
When the fire is extinguished, Natural England will be responsible for the clean-up operation, restoration and recovery. We will have more to report about our work in the area when that begins.
In the meantime, if you are local to the area please stay safe and stay away from the site.