Fylde bans barbecues 12 months on from devastating blaze

The dunes at St Annes in the immediate wake of the fire in June 2018
The dunes at St Annes in the immediate wake of the fire in June 2018
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A ban on barbecues and outdoor cooking is to come into effect at a number of Fylde's public open spaces from Monday.

The Public Spaces Protection Orders, which carry a fixed penalty notice of £50 and could result in a fine of up to £1,000 if the case goes to court, will apply for the next three years.

The same section of the nature reserve 12 months on

The same section of the nature reserve 12 months on

The introduction of the new regulations, which Fylde says will be enforced by security patrols, will coincide with the first anniversary of one of the most devastating fire in Fylde for years.

The blaze amid the sand dunes on the nature reserve at St Annes on June 30 last year saw five fire crews battle for six hours to get it under control.

Plant life was ravaged and although a year on, as our pictures taken this week show, much of the site is on the way to recovery, wildlife officers reckon it could take up to 15 years for some parts of the site to be fully restored.

The cause of the dunes fire was never ascertained but it came at a time of particularly high temperatures and just hours after a smaller fire caused by a disposable barbecues scarred a section of Lytham Green and Fylde Council was quick to introduce a temporary banning order on barbecues and open cooking.

A public consultation on a Public Space Protection Order launched last autumn was followed by the tourism and leisure committee passing the introduction of the order.

The council says the ban is in response to receiving a number of complaints about damage caused to park furniture and grassed areas as a result of barbecues and outdoor cooking, including the fire on Lytham Green.

Damage was caused in and around Fairhaven Lake along with the dunes nature reserve, while complaints also included nuisance, noise, disturbance and safety risks associated with such activities, as well as an increase in the amount of litter left behind.

The council says it hopes that prohibiting barbecues will help to further protect the borough’s designated nature reserves, ecological sites and the associated wildlife.

Coun Cheryl Little, chairman of the tourism and leisure committee, said: “We want residents and visitors to use parks, open spaces and beaches responsibly and safely.

"The council has considered this matter carefully taking into account all views submitted and on balance has decided to introduce this restriction.

"We hope that visitors and residents will understand why we have had to take this action, and will enjoy a simple picnic while visiting.”

Along with Lytham Green, the sand dunes either side of Clifton Drive North, St Annes beach and Lytham foreshore, the areas affected include Ashton Gardems, various areas of St Annes Promenade, Fairhaven Lake and the adjacent Granny's Bay.

Andrew Mills, Fylde Council's Sand Dunes Project area conservation ranger, said of the dunes fire: "I would say about 70 per cent of the burned areas are now covered in vegetation, however the dune grasses seem to have struggled in areas.

"We are also monitoring bird and butterfly numbers on the reserve so by the end of summer we should have a good idea about how they have been affected.

"Overall, we expect the recovery to take between 10 and 15 years, to have the full mosaic of plants back, if that is possible.

"The recovery is also highly dependent on weather. This year we have been lucky enough to have a wet spring and early summer and this seems to have helped."

Meanwhile, Lancashire Fire and Rescue has renewed its advice regarding key steps the public can take to prevent wild fires.

A spokesman said: "Ensure cigarettes are discarded properly and fully extinguished, don’t light barbecues or campfires on moors or besides vehicles, ensure you take any litter home with you as glass bottles and broken glass can magnify in the sun and start a fire and talk to young people about the dangers of lighting fires.

"Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has the skills and knowledge to extinguish a wildfire should one start but ultimately want the people who maliciously set grass and moorland on fire to realise that while crew and resources are being deployed to remote parts of Lancashire to extinguish the fires the perpetrators themselves or their family back home in towns could be in danger. Deliberate fires can cost lives."