Published on 27th May 2020

devil's chimney outcrop on Leckhampton hill

Essential work is needed on Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common to ensure that this valuable area of outstanding natural beauty is preserved and maintained for years to come.

Scrub clearance work on the hill has been carried out in line with the management plan to restore the calcareous limestone grassland, especially in areas with heavy scrub. The burning of uncut undergrowth is planned for Wednesday 27 May 2020. Council officers are working with the fire service and experienced volunteers to ensure that this is carried out safely and in line with all DEFRA guidelines.

Wayne Sedgwick, senior community ranger for the council, says: “The scrub clearance work happened before lockdown, with the intention that it would be burnt in early April. However we were unable to do this due to the pandemic.

“The scrub has been drying out as there has not been much rain recently, and there is a risk that it could set alight.

“The council works to a strict plan with DEFRA and follows all relevant health and safety advice. A comprehensive risk assessment has been drawn up for this work that deals with all aspects of risk involving COVID19 and fire safety management.

“We would like to assure residents that controlled burning is standard practice for work of this nature, however we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Cllr Chris Coleman, cabinet member for clean and green, says: “We are very proud of our hill and common and would like to thank our volunteers and the fire service for their help and support.

“We have a duty of care as the area is designated as a Site of Special and Scientific Interest (SSSI) and all materials are required to be removed from the site such as grass cuttings and scrub.”

“The scrub cannot be removed from site as there is no vehicle access, and if it cannot be removed, the only other option is for it to be burned.”

Kevin Adcock, station manager for Gloucestershire Fire Service, says: “As part of the collaborative working arrangements with Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service and their statutory duties around fire prevention, the Cheltenham Park Rangers have for many years worked closely with the Fire Service to ensure the fire risk on Leckhampton Hill is reduced by undertaking controlled burning of scrub. For a long time, the prevention rather than cure approach has been hugely beneficial in reducing unnecessary call outs to fires, so ensuring the Fire Service can be available for life threatening emergencies.”

For more information about Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common, visit the council’s website.


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