Wildlife experts’ despair at new Rivington moorland blaze

Naturalists have blasted those responsible for setting a local beauty spot alight, accusing them of causing a “wildlife catastrophe.”
The latest blaze at RivingtonThe latest blaze at Rivington
The latest blaze at Rivington

Winter Hill at Rivington went up in smoke at the weekend, causing widespread devastation and reminding everyone of a series of blazes which strafed the moorland in the drought summer of 2018.

A Wigan man remains on bail accused of arson for that disaster and it is not clear yet whether more criminal charges will be pressed this time as the fire was caused either deliberately or by a discarded barbecue.

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More than 80 firefighters and officers from United Utilities dealt with the blaze, which comes just 18 months after dozens of fires ravaged the high grounds above Manchester and Lancashire. The majority were caused by careless or deliberate acts, according to fire services.

Wildlife Trust Campaigns Manager Alan Wright said: “We were almost expecting this fire, as soon as we have a prolonged dry spell this happens.

“This year, with people being careful because of Coronavirus restrictions, we were hoping folk would not travel long distances to the moors and if they did that they would be more sensible and not light barbecues.

“Fires like this happen in spring and summer, so they are devastating for wildlife. We will have lost hundreds of creatures in the flames and birds and small mammals will be nesting now. Insects will be appearing to feed and act as food for larger creatures.

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“We now have three square kilometres of barren, burnt moor where nature has been destroyed and will stop to try to recover. It is a wildlife catastrophe.”

A full recovery of moorland could take up to 10 years according experts. And moor vegetation that has burned already is susceptible to more fires, which would stop recovery immediately.

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