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National park chiefs call on public to lobby retailers for 'Ban the BBQ' campaign

NEW Forest civic chiefs have called on people to lobby shops – including retail giants Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl – to stop selling disposable barbecues ahead of the summer.

The Ban the BBQ campaign is backed by landowners and local retailers in the district, where fires continue to be prohibited on Crown lands and this year also those in Dorset.

The action was taken following a concerning string of minor blazes in the national park last year, plus a major fire at Wareham Forest.

The ban was imposed after several fires had to be put out in early 2020
The ban was imposed after several fires had to be put out in early 2020

Although disposable barbecues cannot be banned from sale, some retailers have agreed to cut the fire risk by taking them off their shelves, including Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

However, not all are on board and the national park authority has now named some of the reluctant high-profile stores in a bid to get them to join in.

Steve Avery, NPA executive director of strategy and planning, appealed to residents: "We still need your help to make the whole of the national park barbecue-free.

"Please ask your local store to stop selling disposable barbecues and to display a campaign poster available to download online."

An NPA spokesperson added: "Sadly, many stores such as Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi are still stocking them with front of store displays.

"This year Dorset Council and BCP Council have also put in measures to control the use of disposable barbecues and have been asking local retailers to withdraw them from sale."

The ban on their use has now been extended to Hampshire County Council’s Lepe Country Park and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust land.

"More than half the national park is internationally protected because of its rare wildlife, the woods and lowland heathland are of global environmental importance for wildlife, and their peaty soils store carbon and help reduce climate change," the NPA said.

"Wildfires at this time of year would cause immense damage to the ground and will release carbon from the habitats as well as damage the fauna and flora.

"With the weather warming up and visitors increasing, it’s vitally important that everyone plays their part to help protect the Forest’s landscapes and reduce the risk of wildfires."

When the campaign started last year, among the first to get involved was Streets Ironmongers in Brockenhurst.

The village’s business association and the NPA urged other retailers to join them and more than 50 answered the call.

The NPA, New Forest District Council, National Trust and emergency services joined forces to warn the public about the dangers of disposable barbecues.

Retailers can be added to the list of those supporting the campaign by emailing communications@newforestnpa.gov.uk with more information available at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/BBQFreeNewForest and www.litterfreedorset.co.uk

The A&T is contacting Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl for comment.

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