Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Muirburn Code – further developments

  • The revised Muirburn Code has been launched.
  • Scope of the Review.
  • Volunteers sought for further development.
  • Suggestions for promotion of the revised Code.

Status of the Code

The launch of the Code on Friday 22nd September marked an important milestone in the development of a suite of guidance for practitioners.

The Code establishes the constraints for burning and cutting moorland vegetation. It sets out good practice, but it does not provide a lot of detail about techniques. This was never the intention for the Code.

The Supplementary Information that has been provided as part of the Code provides some additional information but it is intended to enhance and expand this.

The Code is available in webform on the dedicated website -  A PDF version of the Code is available from the SNH website, and the Supplementary Information is available from the Muirburn Code website.  The Scottish Government website will no longer host the Code.

Scope of the Review

Before the review started, the Muirburn Group carried out a critique of the existing Code for the Scottish Government, and the report from this work recommended a structure for a revised Code and a long list of issues to be considered. The review, which has just been completed, addressed some of these topics, but not all of them.

A diagram, taken from the Critique Phase report, is available here. The issues in green boxes have been addressed during the review; the issues in orange boxes have yet to be considered.

Next Steps

After the launch event, a short meeting was held to consider where we go from here. Two immediate areas of work were identified: 

  1. All members of the review steering group, supported by members of the Moorland Forum, were encouraged to promote the Code to their contacts / members / supporters (see below).
  2. Up to six volunteers would be sought to consider the development of an Action Plan for the further development of the issues identified during the review, and any other relevant topics. 

    • The draft Action Plan will be circulated for comment to everyone with an interest in muirburn. 
    • The draft Action Plan will then be revised and the method of delivery considered. 
    • Appropriate resources from public, private and/or NGO sources, will be required to achieve significant progress.  Obtaining these will be an early task in the process to deliver the Action Plan.
    • Volunteers to help with the development of the Action Plan should contact Anne Stoddart.

The Moorland Forum will facilitate the discussions to develop the Action Plan, but it should not be assumed that the Forum will be in a position to manage the process to deliver the Action Plan.

Promotion of the Code

During the launch event, concerns were expressed about the scope of the Code and the shortage of practitioner guidance. 

It is easy to criticise a document, such as the Muirburn Code, that has had to consider a very wide range of views, some of which have been in direct conflict. The Code could not hope to cover every angle of every view expressed, nor to cover every topic that stakeholders would have liked.

As shown from the structure diagrams produced in the Critique Phase report, the aspiration for muirburn guidance goes well beyond the revised Code. Accepting that the Code satisfies the requirements for a statement of the regulatory constraints, the aim is now to enhance and expand the Supplementary Information to provide more detailed guidance.

As contacts / members and supporters review the revised Code, the aspirations to develop more guidance should be explained to them. Also, to aid the decision about what issues to tackle first, any suggestions for priority issues will be welcome.

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