Disposable barbecues facing a potential ban in Dorset's high-risk areas

Disposable BBQ in Puddletown
Disposable barbecues may be banned in certain high-risk areas in Dorset after forest fires in Wareham Forest last May.

Disposable barbecues could be banned in areas which are more susceptible to wildfires in Dorset.

Councillors are set to meet on 6 April to discuss options for banning barbecues this summer for specific areas that pose a greater risk of fire.

The proposals do not feature a blanket ban, but instead focus on forests, grasslands, and protected heartland.

The measures are being discussed following the devastating fire at Wareham Forest in May 2020 that lasted for two weeks and damaged 550 acres of land.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said the council wants to avoid a repeat of last year’s catastrophe.

He said: "The use of disposable BBQs in high fire risk areas of Dorset cannot continue. The devastation of Wareham Forest last year was inexcusable and could have been avoided.

The fire at Wareham Forest lasted two weeks and damaged 550 acres of land. Disposable barbecues may be banned to prevent this in future.

"We know that disposable BBQs are a real threat to our important forests and heathlands in Dorset. They also contribute to litter as, ironically, they are quite hard to dispose of because they stay hot for many hours.

"The recommendations in the paper to Cabinet members give a good range of options for discussion. No decisions have been taken at this stage."

More than 150 firefighters were involved in extinguishing the fire at Wareham Forest, and the damage cost the council £80,000.

Councillor Laura Miller, who spent much of her summer last year helping clearing up waste left behind at Lulworth, said the council was looking at a variety of solutions to help reduce fires caused by disposal barbecues.

The fire at Wareham Forest took over 150 firefighters to control and ravaged the landscape for two weeks

She said: "We’re doing what we can and looking at a huge number of options, which is a step in the right direction.

"It’s not just about implementing penalties - we’re speaking to businesses across Dorset to get certain stores to stop selling these disposal barbecues.

"There is already a shop in Lulworth which has agreed to stop selling them."

The options for recommendations include the adoption of a new council ‘disposable barbecue and campfires/wildfires’ policy and an establishment of controlled gas or electric barbecue areas in high-risk locations.

There is also a plan for enhanced education and communication, and the introduction of a co-ordinated approach to banning disposable barbecues in high-risk areas.

The council aims to work alongside Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Dorset Police to introduce changes.

Read more: