A CONSULTATION will take place over plans aimed at reducing fires on beauty spots in Rivington and Winter Hill.

Sgt Paul Harrison, of Chorley Police, is heading a meeting with authorities looking at the possibility of introducing public space protection orders (PSPO) to avoid a repeat of the moorland fires seen on Winter Hill last year.

The anti-social behaviour, crime and policing act 2014 allows local authorities the power, through a PSPO, to prohibit specified activity in a restricted area.

The move comes after a new wildlife team has been set up to deal with rural crimes including livestock offences, poaching, plant machinery theft and arson.

They include PC Carl Exley, PS Tony Burgess, PS Paul Harrison, PS Craig McCabe, PC Dave Kinsley, PCSO Ben Pilling and PCSO Maria Fetherstone.

Sgt Harrison said: “We are exploring possibilities of a PSPO to prevent naked flames being used, barbecues and also the incorrect disposal of cigarettes.

“It means that people have to dispose of barbecues and cigarettes safely or they could get a penalty notice.

“The meeting will decide ownership of the scheme.

“It has been led by me and PC Nicola Barff-Lewis.

“We are looking to follow suit with other forces such as Calderdale and Saddleworth with the view of protecting our public spaces and beautiful countryside.

“The fire last year was a major event which cost millions of pounds.

“This will help to reassure the public that we are trying to protect our countryside.

“There will be a consultation with the public to see if they think it is something they want to see happen.”

Last July the authorities had to declare a major incident after a huge fire broke out on Winter Hill. The fire spanned 18 square km and it took hundreds of firefighters 41 days to put the flames out.

Cllr Kim Snape, who represents the Heath Charnock ward on Chorley Council, backed the plans.

Cllr Snape said: “Of course there will need to be a consultation for this to happen. But it is really important that some action is taken.

“We saw the effect of what happened last year with the fires on Winter Hill. There have been smaller incidents so far this year and we don’t want any repeat of that.”