Drought, Barbecues and Hungerford Common

The Town & Manor of Hungerford who own and maintain Hungerford Common and Freemans Marsh are calling for people to take care and minimise the risk of fire on land we all love and enjoy.

With the heat wave continuing with no end in sight the effect on our local environment is beginning to show. The clearest sign is the browning of grass, as in periods of drought the grass stops growing and becomes dormant. It can survive for several weeks in this condition and will revive when rainfall returns.

In this period though, as we have seen around the country, it is much more susceptible to fire.

Much of Hungerford Common Port Down, Freemans Marsh and neighbouring farmland is suffering the effects of the prolonged heat wave and the danger that fire poses to the countryside is increasing daily. We are especially concerned about two causes:

Barbecues – we would ask these are not used on Hungerford Common or Freeman’s Marsh.

Floating/Chinese Paper Lanterns – these pose a greater risk due to their unpredictable nature and should not be used.

We also keep cattle on the Common and Marsh and there have been incidents in other areas with animals being hurt through carelessness with fire. The cattle are essential to keeping the Common and Marsh looking how they do and preserving its unique character for both wildlife and visitors.

Ellie Dickins, Constable for the Town & Manor of Hungerford, said, “The Common is a fantastic area for locals and visitors to enjoy, and we work hard to keep it at its best. We have recently invested to bring back both lost wildflowers and English Elm to the Common and hope to see the results of these projects in the coming years. I would ask everyone to think first when they make use of the Common and to help us to minimise the risk of fire by not using barbecues or floating lanterns.”

The NFU are calling for a ban on floating paper lanterns. NFU spokesman Mike Thomas said: “There is plenty of evidence that shows they can harm animals. We continue to campaign for an outright ban.” A horse was recently injured by a floating lantern and the Chief Fire Officers Association also calls for a review on the use of floating paper lanterns.

How to contact Town and Manor

For further details please contact Jed Ramsay, CEO at the Town and Manor of Hungerford, tel: 07557 440424 jed@townandmanor.co.uk



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