Swaling fire safety advice
If you're organising a swale or controlled burn, we need you to:
- let us know your plans through our online form
- read our swaling fire safety checklist
- call us on the day of your burn before you start burning.
Let us know if you're planning swaling
Complete our online form to let us know if you're planning to swale (preferably at least four weeks in advance or as soon as possible).
On the day of your burn, please call our Control Room on 03333 990 014 to confirm that you're planning to burn that day.
Fire safety when planning a swale
- prepare a fire plan
- ensure sufficient people and equipment are on hand to control the burn
- get permission from the owners or occupiers of the land and the people in charge of adjacent land
- give land owners or occupiers at least 24 hours (but no more than seven day's) notice of your intent to burn
- take all reasonable precautions to prevent injury or damage
- contact the relevant National Park
- contact Natural England if burning on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Apply the rule of 30's
- the temperature should be below 30 degrees Celsius
- the wind speed should be below 30 kph (18mph)
- humidity should be above 30%
- burn when there is a gentle breeze
- make an early start
- stop and re-assess if conditions change.
Consult the Met Office Fire Severity Index which provides information for today and the days ahead in terms of a one to five rating. It highlights when, should a fire occur, it is likely to build up and spread very quickly and be extremely difficult to control.
Your legal responsibilities
The burning, not only of heather and grass but also gorse, bracken and bilberry, is controlled by legislation.
- You must comply with legal requirements when carrying out controlled burns.
- Burning is only allowed between 1 October - 15 April in upland areas. We recommend no burning after 31 March to prevent harm to nesting birds.
- Outside these dates, burning is allowed only under a licence issued by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
- Do not burn between sunset and sunrise and avoid burning at the weekends and on public holidays.
- You must take care not to cause a nuisance through the creation of smoke. This is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1956.
- See the Heather and Grass, etc (Burning) Regulations 2021
- See the Heather and Grass, etc (Burning) Regulations 2007
- Heather and grass burning - applying for a licence