Reminder: new version of the Muirburn Code

As you may be aware, Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham launched the latest version of the Muirburn code on 22 September 2017. This version replaces all previous versions and applies to all Muirburn from the start of the new season, which began on 1 October.

New changes

The new version of the Muirburn Code was produced for the Scottish Government by Scotland's Moorland Forum. The value of the Code, and its relevance to practitioners, has been enhanced by the contributions of a wide range of people and organisations.

The Muirburn Code provides good practice guidance for burning and cutting of vegetation, and sets out the statutory restrictions that apply. Under cross compliance, recipients of direct support payments (e.g. Basic Payment Scheme) have to meet the requirements of Good Agricultural and Environment Conditions (GAECs), some of which relate to the Muirburn Code.

Some of the developments in the Code are:

  • The new Code states that burning should not take place on peatland (land with a peat depth of more than 50cm). This is consistent with current thinking on the importance of our peatlands as a carbon store. Burning on peatland can, however, be carried out as part of a peatland restoration plan approved by SNH. This will normally include measures to raise the water table.
  • The 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

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. It is unlikely that any of these areas will fall out with the provisions of the revised code. However, if you find that your contract does include burning on areas of peatland, you must not undertake Muirburn on these areas and if you are claiming the Muirburn and Heather cutting capital item, you must reduce your capital claim area accordingly.

Last updated: 31 October, 2017