Crofters who practice muirburning are urged to do so with extra care, say the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF).

SCF say several fires have gone out of control in difficult conditions recently, including on Barra at the weekend, seen above.

“Burning off the heather in a carefully controlled manner is an essential part of managing hill grazing,” Yvonne White, vice-chair of the SCF said. “Burning heather allows it to regenerate providing food and access.

"If the hill was not burnt then the heather would be waist high and woody, and the habitat would be poorer for all: livestock, wild animals and humans.

“There have been several cases of fires getting out of control lately. In some areas conditions have been difficult with very dry ground and erratic winds. Errors happen, you can misjudge the wind and the situation can change very quickly. I suggest that Common Grazings committees should review their Muirburn plan to make sure it is up-to-date as a new code has been issued.”
The new version of the Muirburn Code, which has been enhanced by the contributions of a wide range of stakeholders, provides good practice guidance for burning and cutting of vegetation, and sets out the statutory restrictions that apply.

Under cross compliance, recipients of the Basic Payment Scheme have to meet the requirements of Good Agricultural and Environment Conditions (GAECs), some of which relate to the Muirburn Code.
Ms White concluded, “The new Muirburn Code is practical and informative. We need to burn for the reasons I gave, but we just need to be as careful as possible. Following the guidance in the Muirburn Code can go a long way to ensuring a successful burn.”