Disposable barbecues could be banned after two major supermarkets stop sales

Scenes like this could soon be a thing of the past as the government considers whether disposable barbecues should be banned. Credit: PA

Disposable barbeques could be banned this year after data suggested they are to blame for a large number of the UK's accidental fires.

Two major supermarkets have already removed the products from their shelves over their impact on the environment as well as wildlife - and now the government is considering whether all retailers should follow suit.

They are already banned in Brighton and Hove, where the local council decided to use the threat of a £100 fine for anyone found using one in a public place.

The ban there was imposed after a disposable barbeque was said to be the cause of a large fire at a Brighton tip in summer 2019.

Home Office data shows "about 4% of accidental primary fires can be robustly linked to barbecue use", according to environment minister Victoria Prentis, and the true figure is likely to be even higher.

"Disposable barbecues, if used correctly, do not, in themselves, pose a wildfire risk," the minister said.

"It is when they are left unattended, or used recklessly, that the risk occurs. It is clear to me that we do not have enough data on the role that disposable barbecues play in wildfire incidents. 

"However, anecdotal evidence… suggests that they have been responsible for a number of serious incidents."

She noted a ban in Bradford on disposable barbeques being used on moorland had been in place since 2019 and the local council there had started a public consultation on whether to extend the ban.

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"I urge them to keep that ban in place," she said, adding: "I still think that we could go further at a national level on the challenges associated with disposable barbecues, because they create far more havoc than benefits."

Labour MP Holly Lynch was urging the government to implement legislation to restrict their use, saying a "significant number [of fires] caused by careless and reckless use of disposable barbecues".

The Co-op stopped sale of disposable barbecues from UK stores within a mile radius of a national park in June last year and last month Aldi became the first supermarket to remove them from sale in all stores.

Waitrose has also committed to ending the sale of all disposable barbecues and removing them from all of its 331 supermarkets.

The New Forest and Peak District national park authorities have also banned the use of disposable barbecues on their land and have worked with local retailers to prevent them being sold nearby.

Minister Prentis said the government was "commissioning research to examine the role that barbecues - and specifically disposable barbecues - play in wildfire incidents".

In the meantime she said areas could follow the lead of Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils who have already used bylaws to restrict the use of disposable barbeques in areas where there is risk of fire.

"Where there is evidence that disposable barbecues pose a significant local risk that warrants immediate action, I would urge Members to talk to their local authorities, because existing legislation can be used to restrict the use of disposable barbecues under bylaws," she said.