Nick Miles has said he feels ‘heartbroken and depressed’ every time he sees burning moorland near his home in the Yorkshire Dales.
Moorland is often burnt to encourage fresh growth of heather and new regulations were announced at the start of 2021 in a bid to better protect peatlands.
Speaking out: Nick Miles has said he feels ‘heartbroken and depressed’ every time he sees burning moorland near his home in the Yorkshire Dales (pictured on Lorraine on Wednesday)
Nick said: ‘We are told not to burn wood in our stoves but we see them setting fire to heather which damages the environment. It depresses me every time I see it.
‘It is heartbreaking when you are on top of a hill and see five different fires with emissions going up into the atmosphere and knowing underneath it is a deep peat bog, a vital sink for carbon.’
Nick said he would like to see a ban on the burning and claimed he’d written to his MP and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak about the issue.
The soap star also said he was ‘worried’ about Environment minister Zac Goldsmith’s promise to take action on peat burning.
Tradition: Moorland is often burnt to encourage new growth of heather which is then used for grouse to feed on (pictured a gamekeeper checking the flames on the Invercauld Estate near Braemar during a previous heather burning)
He said: ‘He sits in the House of Lords which is full of landowners who want to carry on doing it. It is so archaic. It is bonkers.’
In January, it was announced that new regulations are to be brought in to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation in a bid to better protect peatlands.
The plans to bring forward legislation for protected blanket bog habitats have been welcomed as ‘vital’ for ‘globally important’ land.
But the ban was considered a blow to gamekeepers and to grouse shoots, which burn heather to make way for younger, more nutritious plants for grouse to feed on.
The Moorland Association also warned its members will be concerned as heather-burning remains a ‘vital tool’, but Defra said the regulations will include exemptions.
On screen: The Emmerdale star, 58, who plays Jimmy King on the soap (pictured with co-star Nicola Wheeler on Tuesday), also called for a ban on the ‘archaic’ practice
Nick said: ‘We are told not to burn wood in our stoves but we see them setting fire to heather which damages the environment. It depresses me every time I see it’ (pictured on Emmerdale with co-star Adele Silva in 2011)
The UK has 13 per cent of the world’s blanket bog – a type of peatland – and restoring such land will help reach the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as protecting valuable habitats and the biodiversity they support, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
Under the regulations, the burning of any specified vegetation on areas of deep peat – more than 40cm in depth – on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that is also a Special Area of Conservation or a Special Protection Area will be prevented.
Licences can be issued for burning as a means of wildfire prevention, a conservation purpose or where land is inaccessible to cutting or mowing machinery, and the ban will not apply to steep or particularly rocky land.
Some environmental groups said the legislation does not go far enough and argued that all burning, which they called an ‘outdated and damaging’ practice, should be banned.
Changes on the horizon: Some considered the ban on burning as a blow to grouse shoots and gamekeepers who burn heather to improve habitat for grouse (pictured a shooting party shoot on the Rottal Moor in Scotland on the opening day of the Grouse shooting season in 2019)
Welcoming the announcement, Natural England chairman Tony Juniper said it will mean ‘better protections for our globally important peatlands’, describing them as ‘an amazing habitat that provides essential environmental benefits’.
However The Wildlife Trusts’ chief executive Craig Bennett called for a total ban and criticised the length of time it had taken the Government to make the latest announcement.
He said: ‘Why does the ban only apply to some of our designated peatlands? It should apply to them all.’
He suggested blocking ditches and helping peat become wet again is a viable alternative to burning, in a bid to prevent the spread of wildfires on dry ground.
Up for debate: When the new regulations were announced in January, some environmental groups said the legislation does not go far enough (pictured firefighters tackle a fire on moorland above the village of Uppermill in north-west England in April 2019)