Following official representation from BASC and other organisations, Defra has recognised the need for scientific research to become a licensable activity within the new burning regulations in England.

Following an open dialogue with BASC the addition has been successfully made so that continuing and future studies can be undertaken through a licensing regime.

BASC described the original exclusion of scientific research in the Heather and Grass Burning (England) Regulations 2021 as ‘disappointing’ and a threat to on-going studies and climate change.

Gareth Dockerty, BASC’s uplands officer, said: “It is vitally important to declining species and protected habitats that the management of and policies for the UK’s largest carbon store are based on a comprehensive evidence base.

“The acknowledgment by Defra that research can continue under licence will allow decision makers and land managers to be confident that evidence gaps are being filled through field-based studies.

“This addition prevents a situation where the government’s 25-year peatland strategy is based on out-of-date research. Permitting scientific research allows policies to adapt and evolve. We can all agree that we desperately need to learn more about these varied, complex and important upland systems.

“BASC has already begun working with Defra to ensure all licence applications are treated on equal merit.”

One study that Defra’s addition will aid is the ongoing research at York University that is helping to fill much needed knowledge gaps between different styles of management. This research has been funded by over twenty organisations including BASC and shows the commitment to keep peatland management evidence led.


Notes to Editors

Defra – Applying for a licence to burn on deep peat in a protected site

BASC press release: Climate change studies at risk from new burning regs, says BASC

BASC brief – Don’t ban the Burn

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