A DEDICATED wildlife trust has raised an alert after young arsonists sparked illegal blaze threats at a top beauty spot.
The fires were reported by the Royal Society of the Protection of Birds (RSPB) when hundreds of visitors thronged Dovestone reservoir at Greenfield to enjoy the spring sunshine at the weekend.
Now local councillor Jamie Curley says: “We should be proactive and not reactive managing the situation.”
The RSPB alert sent shock waves through the local community and agencies still recovering from devastating fires which swept the nearby moorland area last year wiping out a bird populations, nesting sites and livestock.
Initially, police moved in to combat chronic parking problems at the site and initiated a team of Dovestone Marshals to monitor traffic and warn visitors barbecues are banned at the site.
But despite the warnings graphic evidence collated during last summer showed visitors were still snubbing the signs.
Now at the weekend, RSPB sent out an alert saying:
“We’ve seen lads trying to set fires around the reservoir. This is arson it is not managed burning.”
And concerned the fires could be a precursor to more problems this year cllr Curley, who serves on Oldham and Saddleworth Parish council, says:
“We should be concentrating on how to stop this in the first place. Money and resources should be put into planning for managing the situation.
“I have asked OMBC full council about more funding for Marshalls.
Saddleworth Councillors have committed 20 per cent of their personal budgets to funding this, meaning other community projects cannot be funded.
“I know when we had the unseasonably warm period in February nearly 3000 cars tried to access Dovestones over the weekend period.
“It is becoming an unsustainable situation and the more attention it is attracting the more demand there will be.
“While there was an exercise recently to test the reactions to an incident and further fires, we should be concentrating on how to stop this in the first place. money and resources should be put into planning for managing the situation.
“Responsibility should be shared and I want to see more involvement from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as well as GM Mayor Andy Burnham.
“We pay a very high level of Council Tax, including GM precepts, and I want to be able to tell people that these precepts are being put to good use.
“Visitors come from all over Greater Manchester and further afield)p but it is the local community which has to deal with the consequences.
“We should be able to ask for and receive more help in dealing with this situation.”
“The GMSF plan for building houses near Dovestone but the seeming lack of a will to help with this situation is making people feel as though our much-loved area is merely being exploited.”
And the campaigning chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents Association, Dr Andrew Taylor, said: “To combat the problems we need a good pre-emptive plan, reactive vigilance and a fast, accurate response. This could be the only successful option.”