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‘Rubbish from start to finish’: Disposable barbecues banned at Cairngorms Co-op stores

Co-op have stopped the sale of disposable barbecues near national parks because of links to wildfires and littering.
Co-op have stopped the sale of disposable barbecues near national parks because of links to wildfires and littering.

Disposable barbecues are no longer being sold by Co-op stores near the Cairngorms National Park in an effort to reduce littering and stop wildfires.

The retailer said any shops situated within a one-mile (1.6km) radius would withdraw the sale of the product.

And it’s not just the Cairngorms getting special treatment. Co-op has 130 stores located near national parks across Britain, and each are following suit in banning the sale of disposable barbecues.

Disposable barbecues often set fire to peaty soil

The decision was made by executives after a spate of littering and antisocial behaviour was reported at beauty spots across the country.

“We absolutely welcome the Co-op’s move to remove the sale of disposable barbecues in and around national parks because they do present a lot of challenges at visitor hotspots like this,” said Adam Streeter-Smith, an outdoor access officer at the Cairngorms National Park.

Dunecht Estate. An area of 2.5 acres was damaged by a barbecue but luckily the fire was controlled before it reached an area of conservation woodland and a nearby farm.

“Anything that we can do with retailers to help get the message out about responsible barbecuing is very welcome.

“One of the biggest challenges we have in the national park particularly in summer is managing the risk of wildfires.”

He explains that the ground underneath campfires and disposable barbecues can become extremely hot, often setting fire to peaty soil. This fire can spread unnoticed just under the surface, coming above ground long after the barbecue has finished.

Once a dry patch of land catches alight, fire can spread extremely quickly. Just last month, nearly 2.5 acres of Dunecht Estate was reduced to ash when a discarded barbecue was left smouldering.

‘Unsightly scars’ left behind

Even controlled barbecues have downsides.

“Barbecues also leave unsightly scars on the ground and a lot of these disposable barbeques stay very hot for a long period of time so being able to dispose of them safely is a challenge,” said Mr Streeter-Smith.

“So unfortunately we do see a lot of these disposable barbecues being left behind, which is litter issue.

“Other folk throw their barbecues into the river to get rid of them which is a whole other problem.”

The Cairngorms park rangers spend much of their time in the summer disposing of abandoned barbecues and educating visitors about their dangers.

Cairngorms National Park Authority rangers have condemned the use of disposable barbecues at the national park. Some of the current rangers picture here at Ben Newe.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t cook up a hot meal while you’re out and about this summer.

Ian Hay, who works for the East Grampian Coastal Partnership, has long been advocating for single-use barbecues to be banned in favour of more environmentally-friendly options.

Barbecue safely and leave no trace

“Disposable barbecues are just rubbish from start to finish,” he said. “They take ages to heat up, they’re rubbish to cook on – all your food is burnt on the bottom and cold on the top – and then take forever to cool down enough for you to get rid of it.

“I often see them abandoned on beaches, half sticking out of the sand which can be dangerous for young children and dogs.

“Instead, you can get a cheap gas cooker for £15 and be eating your food in two minutes.”

Ian Hay pictured with a discarded barbecue he found at St Cyrus Beach.

As an outdoors enthusiast, Mr Hay is well used to cooking in the open air.

With his own portable cooker he often rustles up meals like gnocchi or mussels when he’s out and about.

“The last thing we want to be are killjoys,” he said. “I go out and about with my family and we cook outdoors all the time.

“We stay away from anything combustible and leave no trace behind us.”

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