Muirburn Code

The Muirburn season is here and our post today is a reminder that anyone carrying out muirburn as part of their land management should be using the updated version of the Muirburn Code.

Beating out flames whilst heather burning on Langholm moor. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Beating out flames whilst heather burning on Langholm moor. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

The Code was revised by Scotland’s Moorland Forum in November 2017, for the Scottish Government, and provides good practice guidance for burning and cutting of vegetation as well as setting out the statutory restrictions that apply. Following the Muirburn Code will assist in reducing the risk of wildfire.

Recipients of direct support payments (e.g. Basic Payment Scheme) have to meet the requirements of Good Agricultural and Environment Conditions (GAECs), including obligations under cross compliance, some of which relate to the Muirburn Code.

Key developments in the new code

  • Burning should not take place on peatland (land with a peat depth of more than 50cm).
  • Introduction of fire-free buffer zones adjacent to water courses and water bodies.
  • Specific guidance on burning for grazing.
  • Greater emphasis on the potential role of cutting, in addition to, or as a replacement to burning.

The Code is supported by Supplementary Information which provides more detail on a range of topics, including guidance on:

  • Muirburn planning
  • Ignition patterns and techniques
  • Fire control equipment
  • Advantages and disadvantages of burning and cutting
    The Muirburn Code.

    The Muirburn Code.


Additional guidance for land mangers in agri-environmental schemes

If you have areas of approved muirburn in any current agri-environment scheme contract, (SRDP – Rural Priorities or AECS), you must adhere to the revised Muirburn code to meet the scheme requirements.

In some instances, areas proposed prior to the Muirburn Code revisions will now fall out-with the provisions of the revised code. If you find that your contract includes burning on areas of peatland, for example, you must not undertake muirburn on these areas and if you are claiming the Muirburn capital item, you must reduce your capital claim area accordingly.

For more information on moorland habitats and their management visit SNH’s Upland and Moorland page and the Moorland Forum website.


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