Warm weather and barbecuing go hand in hand, and with the UK currently baking in the midst of a summer heatwave, many people will be making up the most of the sunny spell by firing up the grill.
Sadly not everyone has a garden of their own, and there are some public spaces you can barbecue in, but you need to make sure that your burgers and hot dogs don’t land you in trouble with the law.
Is it legal to have a barbecue in a public park?
The government has strict rules when it comes to the use of common land, and town and public greens.
Some areas of common land – which includes spaces owned by the local council, privately, or by the National Trust – have different regulations, with some not allowing the lighting of fire or use of barbecues.
In a few parts of the country, such as Birmingham and areas around London, by-laws are in place prohibiting the lighting of barbecues in green public spaces.
However, in most locations – including Sheffield and Glasgow – barbecuing in public parks is permitted, providing it takes place within a designated barbecue area and care is take to avoid the risk of fire and of scorch damage to park furniture and grass.
If you are unsure whether an area is designated as a safe barbecue zone or not, you should contact your local council for information.
Why are there laws against barbecuing in parks?
The restrictions around barbecuing in a public space are enforced due to concerns about fire safety hazards, and to protect the land and wildlife.
Fire related incidents are particularly high during this time of year, with North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service recently forced to issue a warning about grass fires, following several incidents in a short space of time.
“We’ve attended several grass fires over the last week, some of which have been caused by carelessly discarded barbecues or campfires,” said a spokesperson.
“Please take care to dispose of items carefully.”
What causes fires in parks?
It isn’t just barbecues themselves that can cause damage to parks and put wildlife in danger, though. The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service stress that improperly disposed of rubbish can also potentially become a fire hazard.
“Don’t leave glass bottles lying on the ground, as sunlight shining through them can cause fires. Only light fires or barbecues in safe, designated areas, and don’t throw cigarettes out of car windows or on to the ground,” they advised.
“If you spot a grass or moor fire, please call 999 and ask for the fire service.”
Barbecue safety advice
If you are planning a barbecue at home, or in a designated barbecue area, the UK Fire Service issue the following advice to ensure a safety and avoid damage to property:
- Make sure your barbecue is in good working order
- Ensure the barbecue is on a flat site, well away from a shed, trees or shrubs
- Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area
- Never leave the barbecue unattended
- Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
- Ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it
And if using a disposable barbecue outdoors:
- Dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished
- Don’t leave camp fires or barbecues unattended, and extinguish them properly after use
- Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to prevent them magnifying the sun’s rays and starting a fire
- Explain to children the dangers of playing with lighted fires
- If a fire breaks out, call the fire and rescue service immediately on 999 or 112