The Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2007 govern the burning of heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse and vaccinium. The period 1 to 8 August is outside the burning season set out in the Regulations. For upland areas the season is 1 October to 15 April and for areas outside the uplands it is 1 November to 31 March. However, Natural England (NE) is able to grant licences for burning outside these dates if certain conditions and requirements are met.
Other legislation will also generally apply to the removal of scrub and the burning of gorse. For instance, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits any activity, including burning, that disturbs or destroys wild birds and their nests or other protected plants and animals.
Where farmers are claiming payment under the Basic Payment Scheme, as a condition of payment they will also have to comply with the requirements of the Heather and Grass Burning, etc, Regulations, including the relevant closed periods for burning.
Options which apply to the control or management of scrub and gorse for the benefit of the environment are available for farmers and other land managers in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. These include the management of moorland and lowland heathland. These options take into account relevant legislative provisions. If a Countryside Stewardship agreement holder wished to carry out burning, they must follow The Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2007. Advice is available from NE or from the Forestry Commission for woodland.