Disposable barbecues must be banned in England, says fire chief

London commissioner Andy Roe calls for ban after blazes across country during driest spell in 111 years

London’s fire commissioner has joined calls for a total national ban on disposable barbecues after they were blamed for starting wildfires in England during the recent spate of dry weather.

The barbecues are a fire risk, especially when used on dry ground, and areas of England have seen the driest weather experienced for 111 years.

Homes were lost to fires in east London earlier this month during a heatwave where temperatures hit 40.3C.

In Norfolk, nature reserves lost over 100 acres (40 hectares) of habitat for rare ground-nesting birds and other animals after fires raged.

Disposable barbecues were cited as the cause of several of the fires, including a serious blaze in Lickey Hills park near Birmingham. National Trust properties including Morden Hall Park, south London, were hit by large areas of scorched earth after fires from disposable barbecues, and the cliffs of Torbay in Devon were set ablaze.

The London fire brigade commissioner, Andy Roe, on Friday asked all local authorities in the capital to implement bans.

He said: “Despite our grass fire warnings, we have still seen some people behaving carelessly and recklessly. On Saturday, firefighters prevented a serious blaze at Wanstead Flats [east London] caused using a disposable barbecue.

“We need urgent action now to see a national ban on the sale of disposable barbecues. They can be bought for as little as £5 and can cause untold damage, especially when the grass is as dry as it has been over the last few weeks.

“Last week is another example of how we are increasingly being challenged by new extremes of weather as our climate changes, and we are developing long-term strategies to deal with more incidents like this in the future.”

Jake Fiennes, conservation manager at Holkham nature reserve in Norfolk, has called for a sales ban after finding used disposable barbecues on fragile sand dune habitat.

He said: “At what point does it make complete sense to remove the sale of disposable barbecues. Three found today and undoubtably many more undiscovered to date.

“The government keep telling us they don’t want to tell us what to do. Yet they banned smoking inside for our health, they banned using a mobile phone while driving for our safety. Why can’t they ban disposable barbecues to protect the environment!”

Rebecca Pow, who was an environment minister until she resigned in protest over Boris Johnson’s behaviour, said she would be sympathetic to a ban.

She said: “The recent devastating wildfires have demonstrated what a risk portable barbecues can pose if not used responsibly. With more extreme weather events predicted, I support all efforts to address the dangers portable barbecues can present … while not restricting people’s opportunities to get out into our green space with all the benefits that brings.”

The Labour party is also calling for a complete ban on their sale. Holly Lynch, the shadow security minister, said: “Given the damage disposable barbecues are having, the calls for a ban are getting louder and louder.

“The government must take this seriously and take action on disposable barbecues now.”

Retailers, including Waitrose and Aldi, have announced they will no longer stock disposable barbecues because of the detrimental impact they have on the environment and wildlife. A petition on the UK government website has so far received more than 5,000 signatures.


Helena Horton Environment reporter

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Disposable barbecues withdrawn from supermarket shelves over wildfire risk
Lidl becomes latest retailer to halt sales of the barbecues as Met Office issues highest fire warning

Sarah Butler

12, Aug, 2022 @10:46 AM

Article image
M&S stops selling disposable barbecues in UK stores over fire risk
Retailer removes items from its shops to ‘protect open spaces and reduce the risk of fires’

Joe Middleton

03, Aug, 2022 @5:58 PM

Article image
Sainsbury’s and Tesco halt disposable barbecues sales amid wildfire risk
Supermarkets introduce total ban as large swathes of UK suffer from lengthy dry spell

Sarah Butler

11, Aug, 2022 @6:07 PM

Article image
Firefighter numbers in England down 20% since 2010, analysis shows
Exclusive: Scale of the cuts risks lives and homes as firefighters find themselves on the frontline of the climate crisis

Jamie Grierson and Ashley Kirk

13, Aug, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Animal rescues by London fire brigade rise 20% in pandemic year
Firefighters called to 755 animal incidents in 2020, with cats most commonly in need of help

Constance Kampfner

08, Jan, 2021 @11:34 AM

Article image
Low winds stopped what might have been new ‘great fire of London’, says expert
More than 40 houses were destroyed by fires on Britain’s hottest day. Now there are calls for an urgent rethink on building safety laws

James Tapper

23, Jul, 2022 @12:22 PM

Article image
Humanity is waging war on nature, says UN secretary general
António Guterres lists human-inflicted wounds on natural world in stark message

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent

02, Dec, 2020 @2:24 PM

Article image
Europe’s climate warming at twice rate of global average, says report
Trend of faster warming over last 30 years likely to cause exceptional heat, wildfires and floods, warn scientists

Helena Horton Environment reporter

02, Nov, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Summer wildfires increased fourfold in England in 2022
More than 800 fires recorded on hottest day of year, 19 July, as mercury rose above 40C for first time

Helena Horton Environment reporter

30, Dec, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘It destroyed 20 years of memories’: Yorkshire family devastated by heatwave fire
Residents near Sheffield lost all their possessions when houses were ignited by wildfires on UK’s hottest day

Robyn Vinter North of England correspondent

24, Jul, 2022 @3:50 PM