THE Government is not seeking a blanket ban on heather-burning on moors in England, the Environment Secretary has said.

The practice involves the deliberate burning of an area to bring up fresh shoots, particularly to feed game and livestock.

There are rules and licensing arrangements in place, such as bans in certain areas including protected peatlands, but the practice is not banned outright.

Speaking at a session of questions to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ministers in the Commons on Thursday, Labour MP Olivia Blake (Sheffield, Hallam) said: “I’ve received a host of emails from constituents, many with respiratory problems, rightly complaining about poor air quality.

“The smoke in the air that’s caused by heather-burning on the moors, spiking air quality to levels four times the legal limit.

“Will the Government finally do the right thing and bring in an outright ban of these practices, which are not only affecting my constituents’ health, but the natural environment and the climate?”

Therese Coffey responded: “Government ministers required Sheffield City Council to take (action) to improve air quality in order to accelerate the measures there.

“In terms of the wider measures that she talks about, we’re not seeking to ban elements – there are important practices that happen.

“But of course, these things continue to evolve.

“But air quality is improving and she should be grateful to her council but also for the Government for making it happen in her constituency.”

Labour MP Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) later used a point of order to say “there is no evidence” air quality was improving in the UK.