22nd August 2019
The Moorland Association responds to the sentencing of Mohammed Zulkifl at Bradford Crown Court today.
Zulkifl pleaded guilty to committing arson on Ilkley Moor in April and was sentenced to a young offender’s institution for 27 months.
Passing the sentence Judge Durham Hall remarked: “This case is a matter that has come to considerable public attention because it was an aspect of the most distressing and upsetting fires that beset this extremely precious part of Yorkshire.
“It is self-evidently the case that left to its own devices this could have been catastrophic. In fact the whole of the fires that day have been catastrophic.”
Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association said: “Wildfires caused by arson are deliberate acts of environmental vandalism. They release thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases poisoning our planet, incinerate local wildlife and vegetation, and risks human health and even life.
“This case highlights the devastating consequences of uncontrollable wildfires on our moors. Zulkifl deserves his custodial sentence.
“There is a world of difference between uncontrollable wildfires, burning with intense heat into the peat and careful, skilled ‘cool’ managed burning of top vegetation only. The number and extent of wildfires has increased sharply in recent years and does not need any ‘help’ from arsonists.
“History shows Ilkley moor is susceptible to wildfires. Incidents have occurred when active moorland management by gamekeepers has been removed by the council.”
The sentencing took into consideration the full cost to society: Putting out the Ilkley moor fires cost the fire service well over £62,000, requiring 10 engines from six different forces, with crews remaining at the scene for four days diverting them from other fire and rescue duties.
2019 has been a horrific year for the UK with 135 wildfires recorded so far. This is part of a very worrying trend – the first half of 2019 and 2018 together have seen more damage caused by wildfires than the previous decade (2008-2017), when just over 30,000 Ha were burnt in 93 wildfires. Nearly 50,000 Ha have been destroyed in the 214 wildfires since January last year.