Rotational burning of blanket bog

Closed 1 Sep 2019

Opened 15 Jul 2019


In November 2017, Defra agreed an approach to blanket bog management so as to achieve compliance with European law. This approach focused on an accelerated timescale for entry into voluntary agreements to cease the practice of rotational burning on blanket bog, and to remove or modify consents for rotational burning. By mutual agreement the resulting Long-term Management Plans (or equivalent) would implement alternative management practices, delivering environmental and economic benefits, along with the end to rotational burning on blanket bog.

It was agreed with the European Commission that we would give this voluntary approach until mid-2019 to demonstrate sufficient progress, and, if it was not successful in ceasing rotational burning on blanket bog, Defra committed to taking steps to introduce a legislative requirement to do so.

Since 2017 a lot of progress has been made:

  • Natural England and estates have been working hard to shape and agree viable and sustainable alternative forms of management to rotational burning
  • The success of this change across many estates demonstrates that this is a viable solution

However, we have not been able to demonstrate complete delivery of the voluntary approach to the European Commission: 54% of consents to rotationally burn remain outstanding.

To meet our commitments, we are now taking steps to develop an amendment to the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations (2007) that will prohibit burning on all deep peat (>40cm) in Sites of Special Scientific Interest that are also European sites. Those seeking to carry out burning for restoration or other purposes (such as wildfire management) will need to apply to Natural England for a licence.

The Government is committed to delivering positive environmental and economic benefits through restoration and preservation of the English upland peatlands, and to the implementation of sustainable management practices. Defra will be publishing the England Peat Strategy later this year, setting out its vision for how our precious peatlands will be restored and protected. We recognise the excellent work that landowners, managers and gamekeepers do managing the uplands, and you will be able to influence and get involved in the implementation of the strategy across the English uplands, to ensure our deep peat delivers both public goods and economic benefits.


Why We Are Consulting

The purpose of this survey is to gather evidence of any potential impact of the amendment to the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations (2007) on you and the wider rural environment and communities. We are gathering this evidence in order to inform future policy development in the English Uplands. We would appreciate it if you could answer as fully as possible.

If you have any questions, or prefer to send your response directly to Defra, please contact 


  • Farmers
  • Tenant Farmers
  • Agricultural Landlords


  • Natural environment
  • Biodiversity
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Ecosystems services
  • Flooding
  • Peat
  • Farm management
  • Land management
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Uplands
  • Soil
  • Rural economy and communities
  • Common land