A MULTI-AGENCY taskforce of specialists across Wales has reformed to reduce, and where possible eliminate, the impact of grass fires across Wales.

Operation Dawns Glaw, which was initially established in 2016 to tackle the incidents of deliberately set grass fires across Wales, will also be turning its attention to the increase in accidental fires.

During 2020, Fire and Rescue Services across Wales dealt with 2,253 grass fires, and within that figure, those starting accidentally rising by 20 per cent, partly attributed to the number of people staying local because of lockdown measures.

With people set to stay home or travel locally to Wales for 2021 holidays, Operation Dawns Glaw is keen to make sure it is safe for the countryside, animals and humans.

Hannah Blythyn, MS, and deputy minister for housing and local government, said: “With more people enjoying their local countryside and the prospect of more people opting for a staycation this year, it is more important than ever that we work together to eliminate grass fires and protect our environment.

"Careless behaviour resulted in an increase in accidentally-set grass fires last year.

"Deliberately setting grass fires by any means is totally irresponsible and unacceptable. At a time of increased pressure, we need to work together and avoid putting further strain on Wales’ emergency services.”

Mydrian Harries, corporate head of prevention and protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and chairman of Operation Dawns Glaw, added: “I think it is particularly poignant that we are launching our campaign on St David’s Day this year as we appeal to our patriotic nature, with a plea that we all work together to protect the green grassland and countryside that we are all so fortunate to have on our doorstep.

“While we know that the warm weather we experienced during the early summer months last year will have contributed to the slight increase in grass fires across Wales, we also know that the number of fires caused accidentally increased as well.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to reinforce our messages that while accidents can happen, there are others within our communities who are deliberately setting fire to our countryside – not only is this a crime, for which they will be prosecuted, but it also places unnecessary pressure on front line services and puts our communities in harm’s way.

The Operation is also continuing its work with farmers and landowners across Wales, reminding them that while they may burn heather, grass, bracken and gorse up until the March 15 – March 31 in upland areas – they must have a Burn Plan in place to ensure they are burning safely.

Find out more about #DawnsGlaw 2021 via Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s website www.mawwfire.gov.uk/DawnsGlaw

Remember – if are out enjoying the countryside and you do come across any suspicious activity, please call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 101.

In an emergency, always call 999.