Scottish Land & Estates, which represents 2,500 landowners across Scotland, said today its members were ready, willing and able to assist efforts to tackle wildfires and were being blamed unfairly for the blaze outbreaks.
Luke Borwick, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said landowners are responsible citizens with the specialist equipment, funding and willingness to help tackle wildfires voluntarily.
Mr Borwick said: “The private sector remains ready and well-resourced to help and can be mobilised at a moment’s notice, however it is disappointing to hear how our landowning members are being unfairly blamed for this situation.
“We are now are calling on organisations such as the NFU Scotland, the Scottish Crofting Federation and the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) to ensure that their members assist the fire service in controlling the flames that continue to burn in the Western Highlands.
He continued: “Scottish Land & Estates was instrumental in the development of the Muirburn Code, along with other organisations such as the Association of Deer Management Groups, which has existed for several years and our members are well used to adhering strictly to the code.
“Contingency plans created by Scottish Land & Estates and other organisations, on the back of the bad fire season in 2011 have been initiated and we have offered support to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. We have members near the fires ready to volunteer their resources to help.
“Muirburn is an essential form of hill farm and Highland land management enabling grass and heather regeneration but must be exercised with caution at all times. Some of these fires have been as a result of careless activity by recreational access takers. However, a significant number of fires have clearly been the result of irresponsible actions of other land users burning and not following the Muirburn Code.
“We agree with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s call for muirburn restrictions, but any restriction should only be targeted on high risk areas in the west and not applied uniformly across the country. The Eastern Highlands for example in many places are still blanketed in snow, and controlled burning will still be safe, as the snow retreats, for some time there.”