Barbeques at Ham Hill are prohibited to protect the Hillfort’s wildlife and visitors
From this summer, the rangers will be encouraging people to have picnics at Ham Hill rather than barbeques, as barbeques will no longer be allowed due to the high fire risk and damage they cause at the Iron Age hillfort.
For the last fifteen years, barbeques have been catered for at Ham Hill, with stone plinths erected near the rangers centre for disposable barbeque to be used on. Disposable barbeques have grown in popularity over the last ten years and the barbeque area cannot cater for more than two or three groups at a time. This has led to more and more barbeques being used throughout the country park on sensitive grassland and near tinder dry meadows and woodlands, damaging the fragile plants and wildflowers and putting the site at risk of a large fire.
The last few summers have been so dry that the countryside team have had to ban barbeques at Ham Hill, so this year the decision has been taken to make this move a permanent one, all year round to protect the environment.
Countryside Ranger Paul McNeill says “Disposable barbeques are not good for the environment in many ways. They scorch the grass below them, damaging the plants & wildflowers. When people have finished their barbeques, in our experience, they are often left hot & unsupervised for several hours after they have been used. With so much dry grass and standing dead trees due to ash dieback, this puts the site at risk of a large uncontrolled fire, like the fires we have seen at Wareham Forest over the last couple of years. The hot barbeques are also a burn risk to children and dogs, who may not see them on the ground before it’s too late.”
Councillor Sarah Dyke, portfolio holder for Environment at South Somerset District Council, said: “Using single use disposable barbeques can seem like a great idea when getting together with friends out and about in the countryside; but it’s not just the environmental damage they cause, they have a huge environmental impact too. Every year a million disposable barbeques are produced in the UK that cannot be recycled after use, and go directly to landfill. Disposable barbeques are often left littering the fabulous landscape of Ham Hill, and our decision to ban them is a small price to pay to preserve the habitat and wildlife. This way we can all play our part in helping to protect our environment and local greenspaces.”
The permanent stone barbeque plinths near the rangers centre have already been removed, and No BBQ signs are in place, so please remember to just take picnics, and not barbeques to Ham Hill.
With regard to our other SSDC managed greenspaces. BBQ’s & fires have always been prohibited at Chard Reservoir without issue. At Yeovil Country Park campfires are not permitted, but barbeques are allowed at the designated area at Ninesprings opposite the café, where the grassland is not as fragile as that at Ham Hill and there is very little dead wood, that could be a fire hazard.