People are being warned they could face prosecution if they start fires on protected moorland or countryside areas in parts of Huddersfield.

The Kirklees Rural Neighbourhood Policing Team and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are urging people to respect the countryside and be mindful of the risks of barbecues starting wild fires on dry grass and moorland over the summer holidays.

Police have been carrying out extra patrols around reservoirs, countryside and moorland in the NPT area which covers Holmfirth, Honley, Kirkburton, Denby Dale and Colne Valley in recent weeks.

Officers have also warned residents that much moorland in the area is covered by Public Space Protection Orders which means the use of BBQs, fires and fireworks, is banned and could result in prosecution.

Earlier this year a man was jailed for 12 months after starting a major blaze at Back Moss Reservoir on Marsden Moor in April 2021 by setting off a firework. The blaze, which took place in an area covered by a PSPO, caused significant damage to peatland. 

Supt Helen Brear, of Kirklees Police, said: “The Kirklees Rural area has some truly wonderful scenery and plenty of beauty spots for residents to get out and enjoy.  

“While the majority of people make the most of these locations in the right way we do always see an uptick in anti-social behaviour and related offending in these places at this time of year as activity in them increases.

”We are also very mindful that the ground remains extremely dry and are concerned at the number of barbecues still being lit in our public places.

“Last year’s major fire on Marsden Moor is a dreadful example of the devastation which can be caused by starting up heat sources in these areas.

“I would urge residents to please show common sense and advise that we will look to prosecute in circumstances where damage is caused and banned activities are carried out.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service commander Dale Gardiner said: “The recent fires in the hot weather remain fresh in the minds of everyone involved, from our firefighters who worked incredibly hard to put the fires out and the local communities who were disrupted.

“Moorland and wildfires can be started in a number of ways. Sadly, many fires in the countryside are started deliberately, however, some can break out by people being careless with barbecues, campfires or not disposing of cigarettes properly.

A devastating sight

“Our message is strong and clear – never have a barbecue or campfire on the moors or start a fire deliberately, wherever you are in the countryside.

“Many people think it’s just the flame from a barbecue that sets the moorland on fire, but it’s actually the heat from the disposable barbecue that often sets peat and dry moorland alight. Public Space Protection Orders are also in certain locations within Kirklees, these orders ban the use of fires and barbecues.”

Anyone who has information about damage or anti-social behaviour in open spaces in the Kirklees Rural NPT area can contact the team on 101 or make a report online at Reports of ongoing fires should be made to West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service on 999.