Aims of the strategy

The main purpose for both these policies is to reduce wildfire incidents across the Dorset Council (DC) area relating to disposable BBQ’s, (barbecues) campfires/wildfires and sky lanterns. In addition, they will help reduce injury to wildlife and litter from balloons and disposable BBQ’s.

Background to the proposal

Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in wildfires related to disposable BBQs and campfires/wildfires in Dorset. In 2020 the devastating Wareham fire triggered a response from councillors to look at investigating this further and to explore options to reduce this impact.  As agreed by Dorset Council Cabinet, a BBQ and other fire related activities options paper has been put together with many Dorset Council officers and other partners including the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service. It looks at both the legislative and other alternatives available to control or prohibit barbeques and other fire related activities relating to the Dorset Council area. Two of the recommendations are to adopt the BBQ and Campfire/wildfire Policy and Sky Lantern and Balloon release Policy.

Intelligence and communication

Data, information, evidence and research used and how it has influenced the decision-making process


The most serious BBQ incident was the summer 2020 Wareham Forest Fire which impacted 180 hectares of heathland and was declared a major incident by the Dorset and Wilshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS).  The list below shows the number of incidents relating to BBQs over the past 5 years:

  • 2020 - 74
  • 2019 - 18
  • 2018 - 16
  • 2017 - 3
  • 2016 - 4

It shows that there has been a huge increase in BBQ related fires from 2016 to 2020 and therefore action clearly needs to be taken by all.

Sky lanterns

The Marine Conservation Society recommend that balloons and lanterns are classed as litter and outdoor releases made illegal under existing national legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

This data from the DWFRS showed evidence of a large increase in wildfires from disposable BBQs, especially in 2020. A huge increase in visitors due to COVID-19 in summer 2020 as well as the hot summer weather, has put more pressure on the natural environment, and this is believed to be why there is a significant increase.  This trend is expected to continue for 2021 as COVID-19 is still very much an issue. We expect there to be more staycations and more people accessing the natural environment.

For BBQ and campfire/wildfire policy - the key issues derived from evidence are:

  • fire risk to properties and infrastructure near places that are considered high risk e.g. visitor centres and heathlands 
  • risk to life from wildfire and risk to staff that’s not necessarily life threatening, such as burns
  • risks to rescue services when having to deal with wildfires 
  • fire risk damaging habitats and species  
  • risks to livestock and animal health through fire risk 
  • impacts on the environment for example littering on land, discarded coals in the soil and in lakes 
  • impact to other users of the sites, such as the smoke generated by BBQs

For sky lantern and balloon policy the key issues derived from evidence are:

  • risks to livestock and animal health (including marine animals) through ingestion, entanglement and fire risk
  • risk (sky lanterns only) damaging habitats (including protected ones such as heathland) and property
  • impacts on the environment, littering on land and at sea
  • risks to aviation
  • risks to coastal rescue services (mistaken for distress flares)
  • risks to consumer safety (there is a variety of sky lanterns on the market, some more safe to use than others)
  • waste of limited helium resources (helium balloons only)

Engagement or consultation that has taken place as part of this EqIA

BBQ and campfire/wildfire policy

We worked with many officers in the council together with the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Forestry England, the New Forest National park and other organisations.

Sky lantern and balloon release policy

Litter Free Coast and Sea have worked with a range of organisations to write the policy including Dorset Police, Dorset Fire and Rescue, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Dorset CPRE, Dorset NFU, Environment Agency, Urban Heaths Partnership, Dorset Waste Partnership, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Team, Marine Conservation Society and The Lulworth Estate


Consultation with the relevant organisations has been fed into the two policies.  It is clear that a clear communications plan is necessary to ensure the policies are communicated to a different range of people including those who do not have English as their first language.

It is also clear that DC need to work in partnership with other organisations and businesses to ensure that these policies are not only adopted by others but the sharing of key consistent messages to a diverse range of people through a joint campaign is carried out and is effective in reducing the risk of wildfire.


Impacts of the strategy

Impacts on who or what  Effect  Details 



(including physical, mental, sensory and progressive conditions)

Gender Reassignment & Gender Identity

Pregnancy and maternity:

Sexual orientation

Sex (consider both men and women):


Rural isolation

Single parent families

Social & economic deprivation:

Armed Forces communities


Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision, but we do not anticipate at this moment in time there will be an impact of this protected characteristic group

Race and Ethnicity:


The floating of lanterns is often a tradition within the South Asian communities, the data below details the breakdown of race and ethnicity in Dorset, the figures are percentages 

All Residents 365,153
White British & Northern Irish   95.6
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller   0.1
Other White 2.3
Mixed/Multiple Ethnic Groups 0.8
Asian/Asian British 0.9
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British 0.2
Other Ethnic group 0.1

Source: Census 2011, Office for National Statistics

Whilst, not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision, the introduction of this policy would only prohibit their use on council land

Religion or belief:


The lighting of lanterns is often associated with religious festivals such as Diwali and Buddhist festivals, the data below shows the breakdown of religion and belief in Dorset

The breakdown for religion or belief in Dorset in percentage is 

All Residents 365,153
Christian 65.1
Buddhist 0.3
Hindu 0.1
Jewish 0.1
Muslim 0.3
Sikh 0
Other Religion 0.5
No Religion 25.4
Religion Not Stated 8

Source: Census 2011, Office for National Statistics

Just over 1% of the population identify with other religions including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Sikhism and these tend to be concentrated in Dorset towns. There are also concentrations around military establishments such as Blandford Camp where the Gurkhas and their families live who are predominantly Hindu.

Whilst, not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision the introduction of this policy would only prohibit their use on council land   

Marriage or civil partnership:


Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision. however, we are aware that sky lanterns and balloons are often used at weddings and civil partnership ceremonies.

This policy would mean that these could not be let off on council land and as part of the communications plan alternative suggestions would be offered

Key to impacts 

Positive impact

the proposal eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and/or fosters good relations with protected groups

Negative impact 

protected characteristic group(s) could be disadvantaged or discriminated against

Neutral impact

no change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups


not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision

Action plan

Issue  Action to be taken  Person responsible  Date to be completed by 

All protected characteristic groups

A communications plan for both policies that covers a whole range of different people, with different languages and incorporates visual (pictorial) messages to ensure our message from the policy is shared to all equally

Bridget Betts/James Potten

May/June 2021

All protected characteristic groups

A new DC web page developed to provide clear messaging and why we doing this and who we are working with.  Link to the Litter Free Website where there are resources etc

Bridget Betts with web team

Sophie Colley, Litter Free Dorset

May/June 2021

All protected characteristic groups

A coordinated campaign with key messages to ensure all audiences are catered for – including clear visual messaging and videos/subtitles

Bridget Betts, James Potten

Sophie Colley, Litter Free Dorset

May/June 2021

Marriage and Civil Partnerships, Religious beliefs and Race and Ethnicity

Communications to these groups on sky lantern and balloon release is specifically required – detailed in the communications plan.  Link to the Litter Free Coast and Sea website where there is more information on alternatives to sky lantern and balloon release for religious and marriage/civil partnership celebrations

Matilda Manley, Litter Free Coast and Sea

April/May 2021

People who agreed this EqIA

Officer completing this EqIA Bridget Betts
Date 21 January 2021

Equality Lead Susan Ward-Rice
Date 21 January 2021

Equality & Diversity Action Group Chair Rebecca Forrester
Date 21 January 2021