There has been a partial government ban in both England and Wales on burning peatlands in place since May, but it’s thought these fires were started on shallow peatlands which are reportedly not part of the ban.
The government’s law only prohibits fires which burn peatlands more than 40cm into the earth – but experts say just 30cm in depth is enough to destroy the land.
The UK’s peatlands are home to 13% of the world’s blanket bog, a type of peatland that is found in only a few parts of the planet.
A spokesperson for the government’s department of environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) said: “We have always been clear of the need to phase out rotational burning of protected blanket bog – which is why we have brought forward legislation to protect these vital habitats from harm whilst ensuring landowners and managers have the tools available to protect and restore them to their natural state.
“This represents a crucial step in meeting the Government’s nature and climate change targets, including the legally binding commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions.”
The representative added: “At COP26 we will bring countries together to encourage them to protect and restore ecosystems to help tackle the urgent threat of global climate change.”
This eye-opening investigation was published just two weeks before the government hosts the UN’s Climate Summit, COP26 in Scotland.
A leaked government document instructed ministers to prioritise economic growth over environment reassurances in trade deals with other nations.
However the paper was not seen or approved by cabinet before it was reported on by Sky News and the government is reportedly not considering it.
Still, the news followed claims that Britain had watered down or removed its climate promises altogether when striking a trade deal with Australia.
Global Justice Now started campaigning against such trade deals, including the idea of the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in June.
This group has 11 countries, and according to campaigners, would undermine food standards, allow chlorine chicken and steroid-fed beef into the UK while giving more power to big tech companies.
Nock Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, explained: “If the UK joins this block, it will be an act of environmental vandalism in the year we host COP26, binding us to climate inaction for another generation.”