Nick Miles has said he feels ‘heartbroken and depressed’ every time he sees burning moors near his home in the Yorkshire Dales.
The 58-year-old Emmerdale star who plays Jimmy King in the soap exclaimed during an interview with The mirror
Heather is often burned down to encourage new heather growth, and new regulations were announced in early 2021 to better protect peatlands.
Speaking: Nick Miles has said he feels ‘heartbroken and depressed’ every time he sees burning moors near his home in the Yorkshire Dales (pictured Wednesday at Lorraine)
Nick said: ‘We are told not to burn wood in our stoves, but we see them setting fire to the heather, which is detrimental to the environment. It depresses me every time I see it.
“It’s heartbreaking when you stand on the top of a hill and see five different fires with emissions going into the atmosphere and knowing there is a deep peat bog beneath, a vital sink for carbon.”
Nick said he would like to see a ban on the burning and claimed he wrote to MP and Chancellor Rishi Sunak about the matter.
The soap star also said he was “concerned” about Environment Secretary Zac Goldsmith’s promise to take action against peat burning.
Tradition: Moorland is often burned to encourage new heather growth, which is then used for grouse to feed on (photo of gamekeeper checking the flames on the Invercauld Estate near Braemar during an earlier burn of the heather)
He said, “He’s in the House of Lords, which is full of landowners who want to keep doing it. It’s so archaic. It’s insane. ‘
In January, it was announced that new rules will be introduced to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation in an effort to better protect peatlands.
Plans to introduce legislation for protected blanket bog habitats were welcomed as ‘essential’ for ‘globally important’ land.
But the ban was considered a blow to gamekeepers and grouse, who burned the heather to make way for younger, more nutritious plants for the grouse to feed on.
The Moorland Association also warned its members will be concerned as heather burning remains an “essential tool,” but Defra said the regulations will contain exceptions.
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 the heather, which is detrimental to the environment. It makes me depressing every time I see it ‘(pictured on Emmerdale with co-star Adele Silva in 2011)
The UK has 13 percent of the world’s blanket bogs – a type of peatland – and restoring such land will help achieve the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as protect valuable habitats and the biodiversity they support, it Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
The regulations will prevent the burning of specific vegetation in areas with deep peat – more than 40 cm deep – in an area of special scientific interest (SSSI) that is also a Special Protection Area or a Special Protection Area.
Permits may be issued for incineration as a means of preventing wildfires, as a conservation objective or when land is not accessible to mowing or mowing machines, and the prohibition does not apply to steep or particularly rocky soils.
Some environmental groups said the legislation does not go far enough and argued that all combustion, which they called an “outdated and harmful” practice, should be banned.
Changes on the horizon: Some viewed the ban on burning as a blow to grouse sprouts and gamekeepers burning heather to improve habitat for grouse (photo a shooting on Scotland’s Rottal Moor on the opening day of the grouse shooting season in 2019)
Natural England Chairman Tony Juniper welcomed the announcement, saying it will mean ‘better protection of our globally important peatlands’, describing them as ‘an amazing habitat offering essential environmental benefits’.
However, The Wildlife Trusts chief executive Craig Bennett called for a total ban and criticized the time taken by 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 all of them. ‘
He suggested closing ditches and helping peat get wet again, a good alternative to burning, in an effort to prevent the spread of forest fires on dry soil.
Up for debate: When the new regulations were announced in January, some environmental groups said the legislation doesn’t go far enough (pictured firefighters tackling a fire in moorland above the village of Uppermill in northwest England in April 2019)